Traveling Mercies: Through the Back Door

I am finding my way home through the back door of poverty, disease, despair and sorrow.  These are places where the darkness is pierced by a small window of the noonday sun, or dimly lit at night with a flame from a tiny tin of paraffin.

I’ve been invited in through narrow doorways made of ill hung plywood or thin curtains covering entrances to the corrugated tin shacks in the slums of Nairobi–hundreds of thousands of them stacked side by side, haphazardly like neglected books on a shelf in the back of a junk store.

I’ve ducked my head through openings in mud huts after driving for hours on dirt roads to reach a village.  I’ve tiptoed into hospital rooms where patients lie in narrow beds positioned in long rows.

I’ve been allowed to enter into the sacred spaces of the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.  These people have given me a glimpse of holiness.  Their openness and expansive generosity have given me room to see my own poverty.  My poverty of pride, self-righteousness, judgement and fear.  And they have gently—and sometimes abruptly—taken my poverty and mingled it with their own, showing me the beauty of our lives together.

Today my mama would have been 89 years old.  And she too opened doors for me, gently pushing me over the thresholds into worlds of mercy and compassion. She, with her own wounds and brokenness post-divorce, entered into the poverty of others by becoming a hospice volunteer and an RN.  I watched her. Listened. Absorbed. (And yes, sometimes rebelled. She was ever so patient).

Doors continue to open. The spaces are beginning to take shape, even if only in my imagination.

I can see it. A place where the hillside hugs the Atemo River.  A sacred space, yet unveiled, where doorways beckon the poor, the sick, the dying. This is no ordinary place. No. It is a place where the rooms breathe with light and beauty, and the musical sounds of the river.  A place where care is rendered with tender hands to smooth a wrinkled sheet, soothe a fevered brow. A place where laughter pulls up a chair next to sorrow. Kindness kisses anger and fear. And mercy? Well, Mercy spreads herself out as deep and wide as the river to drench parched hearts with compassion, lead bodies and souls, weary from their long journey, home.

Always Mercy,


Gratitude spills over for you generous donors (you know who you are!).  Thanks to you, we are moving forward with land and geological surveys, which will enable the architect to move forward with the initial renderings!

Want to be a part of this?  You can send checks, earmarked for Kenya Hospice to Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 4701 Grove St. Rocklin, CA 95677. 

via Always Mercy

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