“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
She stood there, alone on the corner, bent under the weight of the illness that smothers her from the inside out. Her waif-like body swam within the dress that flowed from her shoulders and her hands shook as she greeted her friends and sisters. She’d come to show us the way to her home. Amidst the houses and alley ways of the Township, we’d lost our way, so there she stood – our very own broken and bent beacon. Gentle and adoring hands guided her into the waiting car. As we walked, Thembi tells me that this woman has been in Durban for the better part of a month for extensive health care. She’s now able to live on her own at home, but is unable to make it to church. So we’re bringing church to her.
We arrived at this woman’s gate and before we crossed into her yard, we were singing. Without even knowing the words, the message of support and love and encouragement and hope was evident on the many faces lifted up in devotion. Ushered into her living room, we perched on any surface we could, flooding her house with the sounds of worship. Alternating between prayer and song, the atmosphere became one of indescribable peace – the kind of peace that passes all understanding. She stood, shaking at first, as we sang a song of heartbreak, healing, loss, and hope. And as she stood, the magic began. Never before have I heard the singing of a spirit. Her voice, raised in some hidden strength above all others, rang crystal clear from her entire body, but even if I had been deaf, I would have heard her song. Her spirit burst from her frail body, held aloft by the melodies that soared around and through us. Tears flowed freely down her face. While it seemed to take all the energy she had, she stood there, completely absorbed in praise.
As we came down from our immense spiritual high, she thanked us for being there, and in the midst of one last song, we emerged back out into the sunlight. Through the hugs and the tears, we said our goodbyes and piled back into the waiting vehicles. She stood there, alone at her gate, waving, as we drove away. Though I’m sure the effort cost her, she stood tall, smiling and blowing kisses, a completely transformed woman. I never learned her name, never learned what it was that seemed to be eating away at her. But that information almost doesn’t matter. Who needs a name when you’ve met a soul, when you’ve listened to the song of someone’s heart? Who needs a diagnosis when you’ve witnessed healing?
She stood there, alone on the corner, my broken beacon, healed, at least for the moment, beckoning us into her healing presence, inviting us to witness the love and power of an ever present Holy Spirit.