Early one morning one of the nurses called me over to the bedside of a dying woman. I was in Kolkata, India serving with the Missionaries of Charity at Kalighat (Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying). The nurse asked me to help her cut the skin covering this woman’s deteriorating skull, which then fully exposed her worm invested brain. Looking at this woman’s brain was like studying the brain in one of my biology books. I’ll never forget the look on her face as we proceeded to pull worms out of her brain with a tweezer and the way in which she would squeeze my hand to alleviate the immense pain she was in, as we had no pain medication to give her.
The last day I served at Kalighat was an exceedingly hard day, as I didn’t want to leave her. I loved just sitting with her and holding her hand. She never smiled at me or made eye contact, which I attributed to the excruciating amount of pain she was in.
During my last hour at Kalighat, I got some cream and lathered her whole body at least five times as she slept; her skin was so dry that the cream would immediately dry up. Before I left, I wanted her to know that someone loved her; I wanted her to feel the love she had shown me.
Ten minutes before I left Kalighat for the summer, I placed both my hands on her head and prayed over her as she slept. My last prayer for her was that if God willed it, He would take away her pain for as long as He desired, and give it to me so she could die in peace. And that if this pleased Him, she would make eye contact with me and smile.
Nothing happened and she continued to sleep as I traced the sign of the cross on her forehead. As I walked away, I turned to take one more glance at her, she had opened her eyes at this point and I ran back to her side. She reached for my hand and tenderly squeezed it, and for the first time it wasn’t a squeeze of pain. One tear fell from her right eye as she looked directly at me and smiled! I had tears in my eyes and got the chills in the 115 degree heat. It was Jesus right there! This woman will forever have a special place inside my heart and the world’s most renowned writer could never compose words deep enough to adequately describe this experience.
A month ago, a friend, he was about the twentieth one, recommended I watch The Human Experience. I did, and it was one of the most phenomenal movies I have ever seen. It reminded me of the story I just shared about India, among other life experiences and inspired me to love. If you haven’t seen it, you have to rent it TONIGHT – it’s just that compelling! If I had the money, I’d send everyone a copy.
The documentary seeks to discover the meaning of life. And yearns to answer questions such as, Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is my purpose in life?
The main actor, Jeffrey Azize, struck my heart. Several times during the movie he talks about his childhood, and how he seeks to forgive and show mercy to those who have hurt him. There where two scenes that moved me to tears. One time he is being filmed in a taxi in New York City, as he gazes out the window he talks about how challenging it was to feel and experience love, when the ones who were supposed to love and care for him, fell from grace and harmed him. It was exceedingly profound! In another scene he meets his father, after years of separation and embraces him. Jeffrey’s love for his father mirrors God the Father’s love for us – it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. To love those who have harmed us, is to reflect the Father’s love. And this my friends is our mission in life.
The actors travel to Peru and Ghana to serve the poor and the dying. They witnessed immense suffering while there, but also tremendous love, which is why I shared my story about India with you to paint a picture in your mind. Serving the dying proves to be an experience unparalleled to any other. Our society would say that the dying have nothing – no money, status, propriety, cars or fame. Yet, they have everything, because they have love and hope in their hearts. They have a resolve to see beauty in their suffering and it’s breathtaking to witness. They love without expecting anything in return and offer tenderness and compassionate to others, when they themselves are dying. They radiate the Father’s love.
My friends, let’s strive to love like that. Let’s show compassion, mercy and forgiveness to those who have harmed us, no matter what the offense. For there is nothing that our Heavenly Father doesn’t forgive. Always remember that mercy is His greatest attribute. When others see us, let’s let them see and feel the love of the Father. And then they will be seeing authentic beauty, because authentic love, exposes beauty.
Let’s radiate joy when we don’t feel like being joyful. Let’s strive to see beauty in our suffering, knowing that it is an opportunity to place our burdens at the foot of the cross and to be co-redeemers with Christ. And when we fall, let us rise, and begin again.
Now go watch The Human Experience!