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Pole pole, slowly slowly

Today I went to a funeral of one of “my kids” from the nutrition program.  This one hit me especially hard, as the child is related to our nanny.  We have lost a lot of kids lately.  I happens every July/August and every year I block it out of my memory.  Every year.  It always knocks the wind out of me.

I sat in the family’s home with the little boy’s still body for about 1.5hours.  We sat quietly, waiting, waiting with the mother and grandmother and aunts.  Visitors came in and out to simply sit and be together.  I brought a blue hydrangea and tropical flower bouquet.  Very few words were exchanged.  There was a certain peace in the waiting.  I prayed silently for the mother, for consolation, for peace, for her heart.  I prayed for the father.  I cried.  I had time to think about a lot of things.  I told God, “I think I need another job?  This is just too hard.”

The hardest moments were when the mother had to be separated from her child.  At one point she had to say “goodbye” to his physical body and I could just feel her pain.  She wanted to keep him, but he was already gone.  She had to accept that all she would be left with was memories.  As a mother, I felt it so deeply, more deeply than I ever have before.  There is something so final about death.  As his body was lowered into the ground, she fled, simply couldn’t handle watching the men bury him.  Her little boy would not come back.

Friends and family came just to be present, to witness, to pray, to sing, and to consider the value of a 16month old child.  There was a certain beauty in that.  I was reminded that Jesus wept with those who wept and rejoiced with those who rejoiced.  There is a time to speak and a time to remain quiet.  There really is a time for everything.

There is a Swahili saying here, “pole pole,” that is so appropriate.  It means “slowly slowly” and you can say it in almost any context.  We need to slow down.  We need take time to notice things…notice other people…notice our feelings.  We need to notice the sunset (or sunrise if you are an early riser).  We need to simply observe the passage of time.  Funerals have a way of causing us to pause.

Hug your loved ones today and let them know what they mean to you.  August 4th has come to a close.


Emmanuel walking home


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