Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Giving the Gift of Love

To know the love of God is to know the love of a child!

Poor children here in Bangladesh live in some of the harshest conditions I could imagine. Conditions which, if I were to imagine myself in, I wonder if I would have survived. And sadly, many of these children do not live to see life through the eyes of adolescents and adults. I see children in many situations here in Bangladesh, each one unique, each one different. I have just described the story of Mamoon, and now I have three separate stories in which I felt the love of a child.

On Tuesday, October 29, I ate lunch at Taize, as I normally do. And once again, brother Guillaume, the man with a heart of gold, had invited a young child and his mother for lunch. This child was the frailest child I have ever seen, and to describe his state makes me cringe. For this child was starving, his arms and legs were nothing more than bones, barely larger than my finger. Each vertebrae jutting out of his back, forming a ridge. His ribs protruding out of his chest, with the appearance of a washboard. He was bald and had the protruding stomach, a stomach dying for food. It took only a few minutes before his muffled coughs, indicating some respiratory infection, could be heard. This boy and his mother came to eat here, they were given milk for the mornings and told to come to Taize at lunchtime for a meal. But through all of this pain, this suffering that I could see, when his little hand touched mine, or when I looked into his sunken eyes, I could see a little light of joy and happiness, and a little boy so at home with the love he was being shown.

On Wednesday, October 30, I was attending a farewell party for Jerry and Ethel our MCC Bangladesh country representatives who are returning home in a few days. And the new CR's daughter Faye, a gorgeously sweet girl, with quite an affection for me, jumped up on my lap as soon as I came in the room and sat down. She loved to whisper "secrets" in my ear. It is a joy to see her enthusiasm and happiness and her affectionate love. The love of a child.

On Wednesday, October 30, I was riding in a CNG when I was approached by a child on the street. Here in Bangladesh, I have a terrible fear of having children on the streets. After seeing a taxi hit a group of small children begging outside of my CNG I always wish that there was some way that these children could find a safer place to work selling their flowers and popcorn. I hate the very idea of a 6-year old child on the streets of Dhaka selling something, risking his or her life to make a few Taka. But there I was, approached by a small child wanting to sell me flowers. Now I feel so bad for these children, so instead of being entirely rude I try to ask them where they live, how old they are, where there parents are, and any other silly questions that they might understand. After a short time talking to this child he put a necklace of flowers in my lap, and I told him that I could not give him money for it, and he said that I should have it, and walked away. He turned around and I beckoned him to return, I asked him, if he wanted it back because I could not give him anything for it, but instead he just said it was for me. "For me?" I asked incredulously, and he smiled and walked away. And as our CNG came to life as the light changed to green, the boy looked at me once again, smiled and waved. I still have that little flower necklace. And I will keep those wilted little flowers as a reminder of the love that the poorest of the poor can give. The love that a child can give. Nothing that child could have done could have made me happier than to see that smile when I waved and smiled at him. I pray that he feels peace tonight and knows that somewhere out there, a man from far away is praying for him and thanks him for the love he showed me.

When I recall those three separate incidents I have been blessed with over the past few days, I realize that the love of a child is unaffected by who they are. They may be poor or rich, American or Bangladeshi, naked or clothed, sick or healthy, but the love they exude is pure and rich and it flows from them like a river. The love I have experienced from these children reminds me of what my challenge is, to love unexceptionally, to love completely, and to love unconditionally. That love that comes from God, and that love which is exhibited so well by children in all situations.

Let the love of a child impact you today.
Love and Peace.

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