The Places In Between

In this picture, we are sitting together as deaconess and
pastor, laughing.  It is October 2016,
and I’ve made a surprise visit to Pastor Olak in his rural home in Kenya.  He is the father of Lorna (Olak) Meeker, friend
and fellow deaconess.  I had spent some
time in this lovely home on my previous visits to Africa, enjoying delicious
meals, helping to set up a water filter and learning what it means to serve in
Kenya.  Last year, before my trip to
Kenya, Lorna had contacted me. Her father, who has diabetes, had suffered a
stroke and was having a very slow recovery. She wondered if I might find the
time to visit and check on him.  So on a
rainy afternoon with blood pressure cuff in hand, I appeared on he and his wife,
Adah’s doorstep. His gait was slow, a bit unsteady. With the help of a walker,
he tried to walk everyday around his yard.
He tired easily and was a bit frustrated, but in good spirits.

In this picture, December  2017, Adah stands behind her husband, Rev. Olak.
He is seated once again, but this time for obvious reasons.  He is smiling, but the time between these two
photos paint a different picture.

What happens in these places in between? What would a photo
reveal of a man who is preparing himself for surgery which includes amputation
of toes in hopes of staving off infection and gangrene?  What would another photo show of the man who
is later told, the infection has spread, requiring more surgery? What would next
photo show of the man who expects to find an amputation of his foot or
mid-calf…and discovers the cut was above the knee, leaving only inches of his
upper thigh? Would the photo show the devastation and horror that crosses his
face as he discovers he has no knee?
Would the photos reveal his inner darkness and struggle of both body and

Reverend Olak, who had cared for so many people in their
time of suffering and need, was now in need of care. He who had sat with those
who had received bad news, lost loved ones, suffered, was now was the one who
was weak and vulnerable and almost inconsolable.  And the darkness settled in around him and
his family like a shroud.  He was
suffering in body and soul. And words he had spoken to others countless times
over the years, now became like ashes in his mouth.  He could hear these words being prayed, but could
not take them in.  Prayer seemed to
become meaningless, empty words. But people came to visit–Friends. Family.
Bishops, Pastors, Deaconesses.  These people mirrored Christ to Rev. Olak as he had done to them for so many years. Slowly, very
slowly, the reality that he was not alone became his embodied reality. His suffering mingled with the suffering of Christ. And indeed he did have hope… 

Most of us have been in these places in between.  These places when time seems to stand still.
Places where we find it hard to breathe. Where there seems to be no light. No

Our wounds and scars come in various shapes and sizes.
Bodies bear the marks of surgical scars, scraped knees and elbows. But some
scars, like the wounds of grief, shame, fear, pride are hidden, perhaps even to one’s
own self.

In this in between place of Advent we find ourselves in now,
let us reflect on the One whose body and soul, bore not only the marks of his
crucifixion, but also our wounds and scars in whatever shape they take.

Come. Lord Jesus. Come

Always Mercy,


Your generous donations helped pay for a portion of Rev.
Olak’s surgery and hospitalization.

To continue to support the mercy work in Kenya, please make
checks payable to Holy Cross Lutheran Church, earmark for Kenya and mail to:

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

4701 Grove St.

Rocklin, CA 95677

via Always Mercy

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