Friday, November 30, 2007

I'll fly away

As I lay in bed this evening trying to formulate this story into words the lyrics of a spiritual came to mind, “Some bright morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away. To that home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away...When the shadows of this life have gone, I’ll fly away. Like a bird from these prison walls I’ll fly away...”

Yesterday I was at the office and noticed that it had become unusually quiet, so I wandered to reception to find out what was going on. Our office is usually lively and full of banter, so I was surprised to see a sober crowd of coworkers gathered around a young girl, probably 19 or 20, who had come looking for help. Strangers soliciting assistance isn’t especially uncommon, but this girl was unique. The grimace on her face (whether due to pain or hunger I’m not sure) communicated the severity of her situation. She spoke very little English, so I was not able to catch everything that was said, but through translation I was astonished to discover that this young woman had had surgery for a bowel obstruction about 10 years ago and was using a plastic grocery sack as a colostomy bag. She was recently orphaned, so has not received regular medical care in the last year. She lifted her shirt to reveal a bright red gash across her belly that was unmistakably the color of infection. A chaplain who happened upon our gathering insisted we immediately take her to the hospital. After watching this slim, brown beauty in a striped skirt glide through the main doors I returned to the office only to find out that she refused treatment. Upon examination, the specialist insisted she get admitted right away. The wound was septic and the physician told her explicitly that she would die if she left the hospital. Despite the pleas of hospital staff, this young girl gathered her belongings into a make-shift chetenge bag and started her long walk home. It has been a little over 24 hours now and I cannot help but wonder where she is.

At age 20 my stress revolved around choosing a major and the Jewish boy I was in love with: a far cry from a botched surgery and starvation.

I am writing a sermon for Sunday and since it is Advent I have been spending time with the lonely shepherds in Luke, chapter 2. Thank God Jesus arrived amongst the poor, the outcast, and the marginalized because if he hadn’t, what on earth would I preach about? Some bright morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away. To that home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away...

4 comments:

Emily said...

Increadible beauty! What a photographer you are!

sarliefin said...

Once again I was right there with you. Thank you sharing their stories and yours with us.

Staci said...

thanks for sharing doll ...

Brett & Shelly said...

Hey Carmen,

Remember in Chicago when I said Africa is going to change you forever. It's stories like these that bring what is really important into perspective. I've had patients that have gone through hell and back and I've never heard what's happened to them. Except once with a pregnant mother who almost died from a toxic megacolon. She actually came back to the hospital several months later and I hardly recognized her. She thanked me for saving her life, I felt very uncomfortable for some reason. Nobody has ever thanked me for saving their life. We hugged several times and finally said our goodbyes. Africa is getting into your blood and is changing you Carmen. God wants you there!!!. Beautiful pictures and wonderful storytelling.
Love Brett