Saturday, July 9, 2011

On swimming in poop.

In the South Bronx with Harv and Robyn Bowman was when the idea first began to entertain me, that poverty means sitting in your own filth. Poverty means you cannot be clean. Worse, that you do not know you are unclean.

We cleaned that basement of dilapidated 1800 Grand Concourse, where the kids from the hood snuck in to play, despite three years of sewage backed up over the floor. They didn't know how toxic it was. Or maybe they did but didn't mind. Liked it, even; they called it Turd Surfing. Here in Sabah too, the children sleep above and play in their poop.

I shoveled crap with work boots and gloved hands those days and washed up before dinner and bed. And these days I hold sickly children in slums and breathe the stench of their waste, excremental and non, covered by muddy high tides for half a day and baked in the tropical sun the other half. But at night I return to AC and running water. I am a visitor, with bottled water and soapy showers and shoed feet.

Why do you come? Why do you bother with us? Why do you care about our people, you are not even Filipino. Says the missionary who left her legal permanent residence to minister to the stateless refugees who could ask her similar questions. Resounding in every testimony is the memory of first being visited by Christ, who though he was rich, became poor.

Though he was holy, became filth. Even before he bore the world's wrongs and rags on the cross, he laid in a dirty manger. And before that even, he swam in an amniotic sac of his own poopies.

Poverty means I cannot make myself clean.
Blessed are the poor in spirit.
Visit us and make us clean, LORD.

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