Cold inside and out

So it’s midnight-thirty on the coldest night of the year in Rio. I’m bundled up in a fleece and a blanket, just finishing a cup of hot chocolate and trying to keep warm.

I think of Rafael and Bruno and Viviane and Jessica on the streets tonight, and shudder. The mothers with children – the children without mothers – out in the cold. While I hate it, I am also strangely numbed and desensitized. We see things day in and day out that should not be, and we do what we can, but we can’t change everything. I think the danger is that when we see we can’t change everything, we eventually stop trying to change anything. We have to stop and remind ourselves that though this is reality, it isn’t normal, and shouldn’t be accepted. It is not meant to be.

I see the eleven year old boy high on glue and smoking. I see the young teens selling and using drugs, bored to death. I see the mothers whose children are hungry. I see the gunshot wounds and knife cuts. I see fear and exhaustion and despair. I see young people with no future. I see people I know told by society they have no value because they are dirty, smelly, ugly, and stupid. I see children believing these lies. I see the lack of hope.

And because I see it day in and day out, I accept it as normal. But it’s not meant to be this way…

“…rage, rage against the dying of the light…”



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2 responses to “Cold inside and out

  1. Anonymous

    …Sólo yo no atino a decir nada propio sobre Dios
    Carezco de palabras para hacerlo
    No veo rastro de su nombre en las iglesias
    que son más en cantidad
    que los niños con sonrisa
    aunque presiento su recuerdo en los bosques arrasados
    en el suicidio de las ballenas
    y en el exilio de los pájaros

    No caben en mí palabras para EL
    especialmente en estas horas aciagas
    cuando la muerte comienza a crecer en mi vientre
    mientras en largas filas el mundo
    se apresta a reelegir a la ignominia

    No sé hablar de ti, Señor
    en esta oscura edad en que le va tan bien al mal
    Y menos ahora, cuando tu nombre
    por haber sido mencionado tantas veces
    se ha quedado vacío y desgastado
    como tu justicia y tu presencia.


    Only I can’t seem to say anything original about God
    I lack the words to do it
    I don’t see a trace of His name in the churches
    that outnumber
    smiling children
    although I glimpse a trace of Him in forests laid waste
    and in the suicide of whales
    and in the exile of birds

    There are no words in me for HIM
    especially during these tragic times
    when death begins to fester in my belly
    while the world, in long queues,
    gets ready to re-elect disgrace

    I don’t know how to talk about you, Lord,
    in these dark ages in which evil has it so good
    and even less now, when your name
    for having been repeated so much
    has been hollowed and worn
    just like your justice and your presence.

  2. Laura

    I am reading your post while I sit in my new office that you visited this past spring, Ministry and Service. We tried to send some of the ministry student coordinators home early, because we are all exhausted. But some of them wont leave and I am listening to one excitedly describe how this year she wants to expand her work at the local high school working with at- risk, low income kids, the ones who are told they arent smart enough or good enough to want to go to college and make better decisions for their lives.

    Ben, these students are so excited to love people that the world tells us to hate, they are intelligent and passionate and dedicated. This is your hope, that you aren’t alone, that God is here in Azusa because of the students Matt Visser and I work with. That God is there in Lapa because of you. That there are small victories everywhere, you just have to choose to see them and ignore the desire to shut down. The God of the brokenhearted is your God too. It will be ok.

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