“What kind are you?”
I considered her question, uncertain of where she was coming from. Briefly resident in short-stay cottage accommodation for people requiring medical treatment in the city, we were both from small rural centers, neither familiar with the hometown of the other.
Her question certainly didn’t relate to gender: we were both quite obviously female. So, what kind of ‘kind’ did she mean?
Racially, our origins were half a world apart. Sonya’s appearance and accent proclaimed her to be of Asian descent. I fit into the somewhat anonymous group labeled, erroneously, Caucasian. Was she referring to my country of origin?
Our conversation to this point had centered on our reasons for being in the city, the weather – naturally – and the news of the day, which was heavily political with a major election just around the corner. Was she sounding out my political affiliations?
Rising to retrieve a popped-up slice of toast and refill my coffee cup, I avoided her question, asking instead how long it was since she had visited her home country, and if she still had family there. In the ensuing waterfall of words we traveled hop-hazardly through several distant corners of the world, leaving a mind-blowing trail of relations and relationships in our wake. I suddenly realized that this soft-spoken little tornado was a very lonely woman, and that I was being dragged into the whirlpool of her life experiences.
Finally, running out of countries or of words, she returned her teaspoon to the saucer and took a sip of tea. “Do you know Botswana?” she asked.
Caught by surprise I replied, “I have traveled through, but no, I do not know Botswana.”
She nodded sagely. “It is a very beautiful country. My grandmother built the house. I was very happy there. We had chickens and big gardens.”
There was a brief respite of quiet while she sorted through her file of memories. Then, “I was very sick when I was a child.” She paused again, contemplating but not elaborating on the illness of her childhood. “That was when I first saw the Mother of God. “ Her dark eyes saddened. She watched her fingertip as it smoothed the rim of the teacup. “She told me that I would get better. My grandmother took me to the priest and he anointed me with holy water.” Her eyes sought mine, anxiously. “I got better. Do you know about visions?”
Inwardly I shuddered. Not because I don’t believe in visions. I do. But I could see this conversation was taking me along a path I did not wish to follow. And I saw that we had come full circle to her original question, “What kind are you?” It did not relate to my place of birth, nor yet to which political party I would support. I thought, “You are a clever lady!” I tried to remain unmuddled in my answer to her latest question.
“Yes, Sonia. I know about visions. I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to bring forgiveness and salvation to all who believe in Him, and who live for Him, following what He taught. I have not seen a vision of the Mother of God, and I do not expect to do so. But I do know that the Bible tells us that through Jesus’ death on the cross we can be physically healed as well, and I am persuaded that He will heal you again. Would you like me to pray with you?”
“Oh yes, I would!” She glanced at the clock and rose hurriedly. “But look at the time! My taxi will be here in a minute, I must run!” And she did.
As I washed up and tidied away the breakfast things before walking across to the hospital her question played in my mind: “What kind are you? What is your religious persuasion?” And I knew the answer to be found most clearly in Romans 8:38 and 39 –
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, not height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
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