when there are no more words

as my time in Liberia comes to a close, i look back and reflect and remember. i know people back home are going to ask questions. they’re going to want stories, want to hear of my life for the past six months.

the problem is::
for the first time in a long time,
i don’t have words.

maybe i haven’t fully processed all i’ve seen and heard and felt here yet. maybe once i do, the words will come.

or maybe some things are simply so full of raw…feeling that they exist outside of language.

i don’t have words to speak of grieving families who have lost loved ones too soon.

i don’t have words to speak of fear that grips in the middle of the night when you realize your neighbors are being robbed.

i don’t have words to speak of lifeless bodies in the aftermath of a car accident, bloody and broken on the road.

i don’t have words to speak of how guilty it feels to have a full stomach when so many around you go hungry.

i don’t have words to speak of children starved of affection, desperate for human contact.

i don’t have words to speak of a crippled man sleeping in the garbage and the dust, abandoned and left to die.

i don’t have words to speak of the vacant look in a child’s eye who is merely existing and doesn’t know how to thrive.

i don’t have words to speak of thirteen year old girls raped by men in their twenties.

i don’t have words for the silenced voices of so many children who have been told they’re worthless and that they don’t matter.

i don’t have words for the dozens of amputees wandering the streets, victims of a war that is over, and yet they still bear the scars.

i don’t have words for being sick in bed with malaria while at the same time realizing how many lives have been lost from the same illness–simply because they didn’t have access to the medicine.

i don’t have words to speak of children laid out on a table to be whipped or pushed up against a wall to be hit.

i don’t have words for little girls literally starving, for bony shoulders and skinny legs and how frail they feel when you hold them.

i don’t have words for an education system that has failed so many of its children, for fifteen year-olds in the fourth grade or a second grade student who can’t even write the alphabet.

i don’t have words.
i have a heart that bleeds
and tears that fall
and knots in my stomach
and hands that wring.

but more than that,
i have hope.

because while this place can be filled
with pain and poverty and sorrow,
i have also seen::
seen that Jesus lives here.

i’ve seen Him in the prayers of a mother for her children.

i’ve seen Him in the grateful look in a dying man’s eyes.

i’ve seen Him in the healing of kids who were once frighteningly sick.

i’ve seen Him in the sheer joy of the Church praising Him.

i’ve seen Him in kind eyes and warm handshakes.

i’ve seen Him in a nation full of people looking forward to brighter tomorrows.

i’ve seen Him in students who realize they’ve been given a chance, who start dreaming for their futures.

i’ve seen Him in the whispered prayer of a teenage girl who has begun to recognize her value.

i’ve seen Him in blazing sunsets and soft sunrises, in blue sky meeting green tree meeting red earth.

i’ve seen Him in children who cling to the leg, rest heads on the shoulder, intertwine fingers with mine.

i’ve seen Him in the faces of little boys and girls who finally understand that they are loved.

i’ve seen Him in the dreams of those who want to grow up and transform their country.

i’ve seen Him in the innocence and excitement of children who, for once, are just allowed to be children.

i’ve seen Him in unity and brotherhood and acceptance.

i’ve seen Him.

i don’t have words::
but i have seen

and because of that,
i have a heart that hopes
and eyes that look up
and a growing faith
and a tongue to encourage.

it is in the ugly that i have found the beautiful.
it is in despair that i have found strength.
it is in the hard places that i have found new life.

i don’t have words,
but Jesus is here.

and so i know that one day,
(because of He and not i)
everything is going to be alright.

  • Kevin Mactaggart
    September 13, 2012

    God Bless…Peace

  • Natalie
    June 23, 2013

    Amen. Amen. Amen. I got goosebumps on my arms and tears in my eyes. I know what you’re saying because I’ve been there. And I’ve seen Jesus there too.

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