by Sr. Monica Prendergast MMM      Ireland/Uganda        16.04.2022
A reflection on the grief of a mother whose child died from malnutrition
pieta resizedLord, I feel sad tonight.
I lift up to you that poor mother I saw today.
Comfort her broken heart and
O Lord, comfort all mothers who mourn
But especially mothers
     whose children die of hunger.
For, O Lord, I do not think you meant
Your little ones to feel the pangs of hunger.
What has gone wrong with your fair world?
You never meant so few people
     to possess so much
     while little children starve.
The grief of that mother haunts me.
She walked many weary miles under the tropical sun
     to bring her child to us.
I remember his thin, emaciated body
     and his sick little eyes.
He did improve with care
And the worry left her face.
What love she lavished on 
     her little one!
But today he suddenly died.
Malnutrition had lowered his resistance,
and, O Lord, what grief I saw. 
I felt silent and helpless.
     She was one of your very poor.
And I saw Calvary re-enacted on
     that grassy hill outside our hospital.
For, as your broken Body was wrapped in linen cloths
So now they took this little body
and tenderly wrapped it in bark cloth
and expertly and reverently the father
     secured it with bamboo sticks
     on the carrier of his bicycle.
A borrowed bicycle – and wasn’t your tomb borrowed too?
I clasped the mother’s hand in silent sympathy 
and she said: “Weebale Nnyo”
     ‘Thank you, Sister, for being kind to my little son.’
With dignity she walked ahead as they began
     the long journey home.
And in my mind, I walked with her.
I felt restless and deeply concerned,
Concerned that children must die
     while so many are overfed.
Lord, I pray for your world,
This beautiful world whose abundance was meant
     to be shared by all.
Raise up again ‘doer of the Word’
Who will challenge the rich nations to distribute
Your bread to the hungry multitude?
Take away hunger, give us
     the ‘new earth’!
It is easy to read about starving people,
to look at those thin bodies on TV;
So easy to say: “Let is pray for the hungry.”
But, as St. James said so well:
“Can faith without works save you?
No, it is a dead faith.”
We can so easily be irrelevant in today’s society
if we do not enter deeply into
     the lives of the oppressed.
The cry of the poor reaches us daily.
Forgive us, Lord, for the times
     we close our eyes to that cry.
We do not want to be involved
so that like those
in the parable of old
     we quietly pass by
     on the other side!
We receive from your hands, 
     Lord, the bread of life.
May its recetion  inspire us
     to share our bread with the hungry.
Thank you for the privilege of being here.
Reward with eternal life the many
who support us and enable us to help
     your little ones.

 Editor's Note:  This poem/reflection was written by Sr. Monica while she was working in Uganda in 1982.  You can see how relevant it is today.

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