Friday, March 15, 2013

Hallelujah's View

I have fallen in love with armfuls and lapfuls of swollen-faced, bandaged-limbed, burned-skinned, disfigured-bodied, and completely perfect children. Some days my heart lunges and some days it leaps, but I love walking through the double doors of the children’s ward.

It started two days before Christmas when disaster struck sweet little Given. I couldn’t keep myself away from Given, who’s still there almost three months later. But now, there are so many more.

Kids who live there because of medical abandonment.
Kids who bear the breaks and bruises of abuse.
Kids who were born into a broken world with very broken bodies.
Kids who still smile and kids who just cry.

So I keep going. And I bring extra arms.
Guests to TTH are welcome to walk those halls with me, in small groups, to spread joy and carry the burdens of brokenness by holding one broken body at a time.

Yesterday, as I pulled up the steep driveway to Themba Hospital, I started wondering why
Why do I keep going?
Why do I keep holding them, knowing they’ll cry again when I have to go?
Why do I bring visitors who are only passing through?

Is it fair?
Is it meaningful?
Do the moments we spend there have any weight on the scales of eternity?

I couldn’t stop wondering. But I couldn’t turn back.

We hugged; we kissed; we held; we ate sweeties; and then we began to say our goodbyes. As I walked by the very last children’s room before exiting the ward, I heard her screaming. And I saw that face. And a very young, flustered mother trying to peel her wailing daughter off of her skirt.

The mother looked at me in distress saying, “I have to go. She wants to go home.”

My mind was turning, my brain scrambling.
Because I knew this child.
And I had already loved her for so long.
But something was out of place.

Her mother told me she had fallen on her head and they were watching for brain swelling. She’d only been there one day.

But I knew her. And loved her.
And I knew her name meant, “Beloved.”

The little girl I as thinking of was not a girl I knew from hospital visits though. She is from our feeding in Clau-Clau.

I asked her mother her name. “Notando”. “Beloved”.
It was her. The same girl I loved in a place I didn’t expect.
Notando, Jan 2012 - Photo by Carly B
 I scooped up the screaming, kicking 4 or 5-year old who was still grasping for her mother. I told her, “I know this child, and I love her. You can go, and I will hold her.”

Her mother left with relief sweeping over her, and Notando had a meltdown.

As she choked on her tears, I sat on her bed and cradled her. I sang the same lines over and over again: “We will sing out hallelujah; we will cry out hallelujah.”

She kept crying. The children gathered around me and the new girl.

“We will sing out hallelujah; we will cry out hallelujah.”

She still cried, but over the sound of her cries, I heard a new sound. A small choir made of broken-armed boys joined in the song. I rocked while they leaned in.

“We will sing out hallelujah; we will cry out hallelujah.”

November 2012
I was blown away by the holiness of that moment. A broken-armed choir singing over a scared and lonely Beloved.

She was so tired, but too scared to sleep. So I lay down in her bed with her, with her sobbing, soggy body wrapped around mine. I kept singing, and she kept crying until she fell asleep.

“We will sing out hallelujah; we will cry out hallelujah.”

I looked as I sang.
The view from that bed…
Notando’s view… and Given’s, Chantelle’s, Elton’s, Lucy’s, Pearl’s, George’s, Themba’s, Noktulo’s, and all the others’…

I sang up at white, paneled ceilings and fluorescent lights. And I wonder if the words bounced off.
I sang through steel bars toward a sick, sleeping boy. And wondered if the words could reach.
I sang on top of a plastic-covered mattress with white and blue-stamped sheets, bearing the name that sometimes seemed like the ultimate contradiction: Themba Hospital. Hope Hospital. And I wondered if the words could give rest here.

I thought about the hallelujah I was singing for – the one with a completely different view. When fluorescent lights are replaced with the Radiant Glory of God; when we don’t even need a sun. And when we look through perfected eyes at beauty that the most precious jewels can’t compare to. And when we are dressed in fine, white linens- garments of praise and salvation.

I can’t reconcile the contrast of the hallelujah I was singing for and the place I was singing it in. But I felt the weight of His perfect sovereignty, more tightly than I felt the sniffling, sleeping body wrapped around me.

I came that day wondering why.

His little, hurting Beloved needed to be cradled and sang over. She wanted to go home, and she needed Home’s song to be washed over her environment that didn’t match.

Feb 2013
Just like me.

When robed in itchy garments of pain, when the tears are flowing, when people leave, when circumstances glare like fluorescent lights, the Hallelujah comes and cradles His Beloved.

I’ll never be able to grasp how or why so many children fill so many hospital beds. A hospital will never look like the hallelujah we were singing for. But, sovereignty wrapped around me and sang hallelujah in that hospital bed. And I’ll keep going until the Sovereign Hallelujah says stop.   


  1. Do you still sing with your blow-up micraphone? ;-)


    1. YES! But it hasn't made an appearance at the hospital yet. Good idea Lisa! ;)

  2. This is so beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes.

    1. Thank you so much for reading and crying with me :)

  3. Kacy, my heart (and my eyeballs)are crying for these sweet souls. Thank you for sharing and for loving these babies! I wish I could be there hugging on and singing with each of the precious children you write about.

  4. Thank you Katie! I love you so much