She sat in the courtyard in the brilliant African sunshine.
Her dark skin failed to conceal the desolation in her eyes.
Her arms, weak from holding the child, now lay still and empty. Her hands rested on the cotton skirt that covered her thighs, her fingers played at the creases.
Her child, the boy, naked and brown with shining eyes and a perfect mouth, was in the arms of another, hungrily working at wrapping those flower-blossom lips around the bottle nipple.
His blanket was but a dirty square of fabric, ripped from something larger, to be made small enough to enfold the baby.
And I listened to the lilting voices speaking words that sounded like the tinkling of bells and falling water. I didn’t understand the language.
But the story was clear.
The baby was healthy, declared the staff nurse.
The girl with the desolate eyes explained: no milk had come. He had slurped water from her cupped hand, lapped at the creases of her palm instead of the colostrum of her breast. She was, indeed, desolate.
Three days he’d been here, born on a day in November to a land called Africa. And such a world to great him.
No father. A mother with no means at all to care for him.
Not a stitch of clothing, nor a diaper.
He was such a baby that anyone would be proud to call him son. Ten fingers, ten toes, alert eyes, strong neck. But in this suspended moment, he was no one, and every one of us, wrapped in the filth of earth thirsty for life and love and a chance.
We sat around the low, orphanage tables under the shade of some foreign tree and I watched the intake process. I listened to every syllable of the story, translated by a social worker.
She was only a girl, fifteen, raped in a bathroom she had been cleaning. And now, here she sat, empty with a single friend beside her.
Her friend explained she would keep the child if she could, but she had taken in a foundling, a little girl not yet two-years old. She couldn’t take any more; she herself had little income, poor by even Ethiopian standards. So, she brought the girl and the baby here, to the one place where there was hope.
Fatigue overcame desolation and she swooned on her stool.
“Had she yet seen a doctor?”, the question came.
“Was she bleeding still?”
We left the orphanage gates, perfect boy in the arms of competent nanny, and swept the young mother into the Land Cruiser to the hospital.
I sat beside her with a soul full of things to say and no words to say them. The Atlantic Ocean may have ridden those bumpy streets between us the gulf was so large.
Both of us mothers. Her the same age as my daughter, penniless and sick. Me, a daughter of luxury from the land of plenty. But I wanted more than anything to tell her: you will no longer be called Desolate. Your name is not Forsaken. Jesus came for you, and me, and that precious baby. You are his bride. He delights over you.
I squeezed her hand.
I begged God’s love and peace to flood her soul.
I noticed the smallest smile in her eyes as she said thank you. She turned and I watched her small frame pass through the hospital doors.
And later, when I held that child, and chose his first little, blue outfit, and when I fed him and changed his tiny diaper, I prayed salvation over him. I was only a visitor, but I’d seen a vision. And it altered my soul.
When I think of her I wonder, did she get to say goodbye?
Friend, we live in a broken world. We live with the distortion of sin inside us, around us, because of us.
But, we are not abandoned! Salvation and goodness can be found in every dire situation.
If you feel like your name is Desolate or Forsaken, you are not beyond redemption.
You are not beyond redemption.
The Lord sees. You.
He will claim you. And heal you.
Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.”
Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,”
for the LORD delights in you
and will claim you as his bride.
I’ve linked up again with the amazing community that meets on Fridays at Lisa Jo’s. I usually go over the five-minute rule, but I do follow the rule of writing stories for the love of it!