Swaying in the Wind

Swaying in the Wind

by Sr. Jo Anne Kelly MMM                      Ireland                          02.03.2024

This morning as I enjoyed my breakfast tea I sat looking out on the garden. It was wet and windy. The large pine trees were having a wonderful time in the breeze, swaying and swinging, bowing and turning, abandoning themselves completely to the movements of the dance.

It reminded me of the words of Jesus. “The wind blows wherever it chooses. You hear the sound but you don’t where it comes from or where it is going. And so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” Jn. 3:8

And that also somehow reminded me of Ben. He was brought in to the leprosy village by our Mobile team, totally neglected, emaciated, covered in sores, with little sign of life except in his big dark eyes. It was impossible to even guess what his age might be.

Over many months, with care, attention and regular food he improved and we heard his story. As a child he had suffered from something like rickets which left him unable to walk. He could only crawl awkwardly. His people did not understand and were afraid it was some kind of curse. His mother cared for him as best she could until one day she discovered a patch on his arm which she knew was leprosy.
At that time leprosy was a very dreaded disease and the person had to be isolated. Ben was moved to a wooded area outside the village. I don’t know how he was meant to survive there but it was difficult for him to get food or anything else and he just got more and more neglected and hopeless. It was a long distance from where we were but eventually someone informed us about Ben and the team picked him up.

The first time I saw real joy on Ben’s face was the day he was pushed down the ward in a wheelchair, sitting upright and seeing everyone and everything. And an even more joyous day was when he got his own wheelchair and could move himself.

Ben moved to a house in the village. Each house had two rooms, one at each end with a shared verandah between. He spent a lot of time on his verandah. He learnt how to make raffia baskets which could be sold in the local market.

He was then about 30 years old and became quite a leader. Others would gather around his verandah in the evenings. He would organize meetings if the men in his camp needed to get something done. If there was something to be celebrated he organized a party. He would beat the drum and dance with the others, moving from the waist up. Each Sunday he got help to push himself up to the village church for Mass.

I sometimes wondered what Ben’s life would have been like if he had not got leprosy. God has his own plans for all of us.

During this Lent I hope to try and leave myself open to the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis once said. “To be born again is to let the Holy Spirit enter you. With the freedom of that Spirit you will never know where you will end up”.