Usha and Mercy
Kisumu - Kenya
IN HIS FOOTSTEPS
NO 4 March, 2006
Scripture reading: Mark 9: 2-8
SEEING WITH NEW EYES
One of the aims of the Leprosy Mission is to minister in the spirit of Christ.
If we translate the meaning of minister, as serve, we have a better understanding of what our work is about. All of us in the TLM family are here to serve those suffering from leprosy.
Often in our work, especially in medical work, we see the same people, the same kind of diseases and are asked to do the same things everyday. A kind of boredom sets in and we think, “ If only something different would happen today, something to make life a little more interesting, how nice it would be.” But it rarely does, and our boredom with our work, our colleagues and our patients continues. When we live this way, nothing inside us grows. We live with no joy in our work or in our lives, almost like machines.
Our scripture reading today shows us how the disciples too had got used to seeing Jesus in a particular way………as a teacher, and a healer. Jesus took them up the mountain, and there during the transfiguration, they were able to see him in a different way. He had not changed, he was still the same person, but now they saw him with new eyes.
LISTEN WITH YOUR HEART
During a time when I was going through some difficult problems, the same negative thoughts and feelings kept coming into my heart. There were some days when I just did not want to wake up or work. Then I read something that Dr Rachel Remen, a doctor who works with cancer patients had written. She asks her students and colleagues to answer three questions every day to help them see that they are not boring machines, but human beings with hearts that can feel. The questions are: what surprised me today? What inspired me today? What moved or touched my heart today?
I decided to take these questions seriously and answer them myself. For the first few days, my answer was, “ nothing.” My problems were still there. The people who gave me these problems were also still there. Nothing seemed different. Then one day, something surprised me. My neighbour who usually did not speak much to me, told me they had begun a small maths school in their house because she and her husband could not have any children. They loved children and decided that this was one way that they could enjoy children and help them in a special way. Until she spoke to me that day, we had just said, “ hello, how are you?” I always thought of her as a quiet housewife, but now seeing her with new eyes, I saw her pain, and her great inner strength to overcome the pain of her childlessness. I also noticed how kind she was to the children who came to study at her school. We began speaking about many things and became good friends. As our friendship deepened, some of my problems also looked smaller than they really seemed.
Dr Remen’s questions began to affect me deeply. Another day, Munisamy, a leprosy patient came to visit me. Munisamy ‘s fingers were shortened and with his one good thumb, he put his thumb print on documents. On this day he was very excited and asked me for a sheet of paper. He put the paper on the floor, took out a pen from his pocket and bending down, slowly wrote his name. I was so surprised. I asked him why he had learnt to write after all these years. “ I wanted to sign my name on your Christmas card amma,” he said. Despite the poverty and disability that worked against him, he still wanted to do something to please me. In a week when my own small problems were getting me down, Munisamy’s joy and achievement at being able to sign his name, was such an inspiration to me.
GO AND DO LIKEWISE
If we think about it, what Rachel Remen says is also what Jesus taught us. To treat each day as a gift from God. A day when He will provide for all our needs. A day when He will surprise us with new strengths. If we take these words for granted because we have heard them so often, we will miss the truth and the promise that lies in them. God promises us surprises every day. He does not tell us what they will be, but asks us to keep our hearts and eyes open for them. Maybe the surprise will come through the next patient, or through your colleague or through your child.
There are many things in life that irritate us and spoil our moods. Sometimes these irritations take over our lives and spill on to our work relationships to such an extent that we cannot bear to be with some people or work in some areas. Answering those three little questions will help us move from a place of irritation to one of joy. Whenever we look at people, or difficult situations around us with new eyes, our own understanding of them changes, though often, the people or situations themselves don’t change. Our responses to them and ourselves become more human, more caring and more loving and this helps us to face each day with the certainty that Jesus too must have felt like us.
FOR YOU TO THINK AND DISCUSS
- What surprised me today?
- What inspired me today?
- What moved or touched my heart today?
FOR YOU TO MEDITATE ON
Lord, I long for a day when I will see you,
When I will hear you call my name to assign a special task for me.
How gladly I will do it for you, Lord.
But instead, I do the same work everyday,
Meet the same people too.
And I have given up hoping that you will call my name.
But today, I know that you call me everyday.
You give me special tasks everyday.
Only I have failed to hear you.
Help me to hear your voice
and see everything around me with new eyes.
So that you too will be surprised by me.
USHA JESUDASAN - firstname.lastname@example.org