Talk about a wake-up call.
In the past week and a half since my return to South Africa…
An overwhelmed mother has tried to give me her unnamed, 4-week old baby. “I just don’t want her. I have too many.”
I have piled tears and filth into my car to come home for baths, vitamins and affection, longing to lavish baths, vitamins and affections on my own.
A mother told me a story about her sister, whose stomach now stretches around another baby, most likely conceived in prostitution. This sister raises two children in the grip of her sharp, abused edges, and now I hear that another child has been removed from her home because this shame-laden mother tried to kill her. And another baby died at 3 months… We don’t know how… And we watch the stomach grow.
A dear friend and fierce woman of God climbed down a mountain with two little ones and all her belongings, crying and calling for refuge from her husband’s abusive hand, even when her culture and her family say to withstand it.
A hungry, chicken-poxed family of orphans walked far and long when they see my car turn into their community, partially to welcome me back but mostly to beg for food.
I rocked a half-grown child in my lap as her and her brothers retreat from a drunken mother and a broken home for the joy welling up in the church yard and a hot plate of food at the feeding.
It’s not just here. It’s everywhere. But it’s definitely here.
Some days it feels dark and crushing.
I can’t save every baby. I can’t save any baby. I hold nothing in my own hands, nothing by my own strength. I can’t even catch all of the forbidden tears.
But we remember. And we speak out.
You don’t stop seeing.
You don’t close your eyes.
You don’t turn away.
You don’t lose heart.
You don’t lose hope.
You are Hope. You are Love.
You see. You know. You respond.
Your justice and your love can’t be measured.
Can’t be attained by the standards of this world.
The circumstances crush.
Days turn into dark and lonely nights.
YOU are the bright Morning Star.
In the darkest night, the light of morning illuminates the soul and drenches the spirit.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David and the bright Morning Star.”
Morning promises – new mercies and joy – are awake in every storm, every broken body and every time zone. When we receive them. When we welcome them, as we were welcomed.
It’s not time to hit the snooze button. It’s not time to close our eyes or our hope in the midst of a dark night.
“You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.” 2 Samuel 22:29
Wake up, O Sleepers.
Give your heart and your hope to the morning and not the night.
And pray and pray and pray for that bright Morning Star to rise over every dark shack, every broken body, every dead womb, every devastated mother, every lost sheep buried in a thorny thicket, every bleeding marriage, every secret and sorrow pushed into a dark closet’s corner.
Rise, oh bright Morning Star, and shine.
Shine on the new babies and the old ones.
Shine on Your beloved who run, Your beloved who fall, and Your beloved who seek.
“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” Revelation 21:24