The Measurement

With a weight in my pocket, I walked through the night rain. Knee high rubber boots couldn’t stop this kind of water. It was the kind of rain that soaked you straight through a raincoat. I reached the edge of the field and forded the new river that was pouring from it. Trying not to slip, I walked through the sludge in the dark, wishing our town had electricity, or at least street lights. Sometimes a flashlight just isn’t that comforting. On the main road, the mud was at least a little firmer, but no less slick. However, within minutes I arrived at my destination, a small dark house with candlelight flickering from the cracks in the plank door.
“Buenas noches.” Good night, I said as I stepped into the room.
“Buenas noches,” replied the weary voices of many red-eyed women.
The room felt heavy, and looked like a battle had just happened. A mangy dog with prominent ribs trotted through then sprinted out as someone raised a shoe. Seconds later, we heard it yelp and snarl in the struggle of a fight outside. There would be no peace tonight.
I saw what I was looking for, a small plastic table with four dim candles slowly dying. Dipping my head, I approached the table to get a better look at the tiny bundle at its center.  I reached into my pocket and removed the measuring tape that my brother-in-law had sent me. From tip to tip, it was twenty-two  inches long.
“Twenty-two inches, twenty-two inches,” I repeated over and over again in my mind. “I cannot get this wrong.” I measured again to confirm. Yes, it was twenty-two inches. I turned away from the bundle. With one more round of “good nights,” I was relieved to be back in the rain again.
As I slipped my way back towards my neighbors, I rolled over the number in my head, twenty-two.  I was born on May 22, I wore the number 22 on my soccer jersey all the way through high school. It had always been my lucky number. Now, walking on this soccer field in a foreign land, twenty-two didn’t seem so lucky.
I swung my flashlight towards the pile of wood where my friends had been, they signaled back with a cell phone. It took an eternity to reach them; nothing tonight would move fast enough. No matter what we did, time was stuck in the same mud, in the same storm that we were, and nothing could free it.
“Entonces?” said the tall man in the cowboy hat. Well then.
“Veinte y dos.” I replied. Twenty-two.
“Seguimos entonces,” said the other man. Let’s get on with it. He was younger , very fit and strong, but tonight his muscles were insufficient to support him. The tiredness in his voice said that it was much later than the hour that his cell phone’s clock told him. For him, it would be a long night. Twenty-two inches was the length of his newborn daughter’s coffin.
Hours before, Stacey held the baby as it gasped for breath. A twin, Gabriela was born with anencephaly. She lived for nearly 24 hours, but without any brain above her eyes, there was no chance of life. One very long day after she came into the world she slid back out, resting in the arms of her weeping grandmother. She laid down the baby girl and picked up her beautiful, healthy twin brother, grateful to God for his tiny life.
It is for this reason that we came to Las Lomitas, to share in the suffering and triumph of life with a people broken all too often, with hope rarely in the forecast. Each day we live trying to reflect the Hope that we have within us.

1 comment:

  1. Wow what a powerful story. thank you so much for sharing this. God is truly using you guys in an incredible way.