The blinking mouthpiece
by beatrice ofwona
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This piece was inspired by a female Canadian police officer who was awarded for her bravery after she risked her life to save a teenage boy who was stranded in a flooded river. She later reflected simply, ‘there was really no fear factor. From the moment I first saw him, he locked eyes with me and all I could think of was that I just wanted to get him out’. As I pondered about this, I realized that sometimes all it takes is a non-verbal but urgent cry from the depths of another’s being that says, ‘save me’.
Sometime back, together with a close friend, I visited a sickly relative who had developed AIDS. As we walked into what was a dimly lit room, we were welcomed by a few flies and a smell of despair and hopelessness that could almost be sliced through. It took us a while to finally see the body mass that lay hidden beneath the worn out blanket lying on a two inch mattress that had been casually thrown to the floor. Peeping out of this confusion was a pair of eyes that sought and found mine. I could have sworn that in the ensuing silence, I heard the words ‘help me’. Overcome, I bent low and reached for his face. His cheeks were hollow from months of ravage, his lips cracked and dry; his eyes, never leaving mine, connected and locked in what felt like a slow motion of bottomless revelations and mysterious entanglements as I tried to discern the unspoken message. In that instance was rekindled a kinsmanship, ignited a purpose and ingrained a bottomless understanding of love in the few minutes that ticked on like eternity. No wonder I was inconsolable when, two days later, word came that he had passed on.
The mechanizations of life ensure that society constantly tries to smoothen out those rough edges that are our identity and which fail the social engineering process of growing up from childhood into adulthood. The pruning process continues throughout life yet in each one of us is a little child who should be left unsocialized. The hardening of our hearts involves acculturation where we merge our own cultures and sub-cultures with others thus crafting other forms of belief that ensure that we either gain in or lose out; loses however carry the day as we continue living in a world that operates as if it is always out to get us. As we recoil into our fearful selves for preservation, we become balls of insensitivity with eyes that constantly avoid contact. That which is fearfully and wonderfully created by God, our original untainted self, blinks from within and through the eyes; these sometimes communicating fear, pain or uncertainty but inaudibly from the cask that is the body. In us all is a child and it is this little one who is able to respond to these silent cries and who loves unconditionally. That connection is only possible because in our disempowered state, we are like children and we need another child to connect with us and help us through.
In the hospital beds we see this look, this cry, this message: touch me. In a child in a children’s home, hold me; in the hesitant school child, be patient with me; in the nanny with a low self esteem, accept me; in the bus driver or waiter whom we do not acknowledge, see me, talk to me; in the student who is overwhelmed by the pressure of examinations; guide me; in the teenager who feels lost in a fast paced world, listen to me; in the hungry, feed me. Yet in our daily masks we harden our hearts and fail to listen to each others’ child within.
The child in us is able to talk through the blinking eyes that then become the mouthpiece. This is the only place where the truth abounds and should never be defiled nor let to die. In Mark 10:13-16, the disciples rebuked the people who brought their children to Christ but he said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it”. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
How precious it is to be like a child! How much more precious it is, to be able to let this child out from the blinking eyes that seek to communicate and be one with him or her in reality! How wonderful it would be to rediscover our awe and wonder for the creator and His creation!
For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these!
(word count 805)
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