The Thin Places

By: Laurie Talty, M.D.

The thin places..... those moments the Irish refer to when the ordinary meets the eternal. Jim Wood spoke of these not long ago  and I thought how often did we have those moments on our recent two week pilgrimage to Kenya. Certainly there were relatively mundane tasks to do, government forms to fill out on each of our sixty Joy Village children, medical assessment forms, a detailed history of the events leading to the childrens' placement at JV,  plans for their future, their education and their reintegration into their communities. We had home visits to make, a school to visit, a meeting with a community leader, assessments on the progress of our Allamano scholars and meetings with their parents. But in  the midst of it all, God gave us a glimpse of the thin places.

On one of our visits to JV, I was lifting and tossing the little ones into the air. As I glanced down , there were our five year old twin girls patiently waiting, round faces smiling. Didn't I just fill out their government forms , learning of their rescue at 12 months of age,  each weighing little more than most newborns, so malnourished that they were hospitalized for weeks at a Children's hospital in Nairobi.  Now,  as my arms joyously strained to lift them, I thanked God. A short time later, I glanced out over the spacious new lawn at JV.  There was one of our high school girls , home for the school holiday. In front of her stood one of our sickest children, recovering from the ravages of HIV encephalopathy, learning to walk again, his walker pushed to the side for a moment. With a loving smile and arms outstretched, this beautiful girl was gently encouraging him to take a few independent steps. For well over 30 minutes she worked with him, a physical therapist in the making perhaps ?  Having just completed her forms, I understood why, only a few years before, this same girl hid sullenly beneath her hoodie. God's love , expressed through a mother , has been transformative to her.  Again , I offered thanks.  On a visit to the Alamano school, we had tea with Sister Maria, the school administrator.  She spoke of God's calling on her life, taking her from a large Catholic family in Columbia,across the ocean,  to teach children in Kenya. She spoke of the home visits she had made to each of her forty-five students, mostly the poor homes of tea pickers,  the importance of knowing their families and where they came from. Her tiny  physical stature, she stands all of four feet, ten inches, belies  her incredible stature in God's power.  Once again, we had a moment.  And..... there were so many more.

The thin places are calling, perhaps to you, for a pilgrimage to Kenya in 2017?

Rebecca Topping