Love Heals

This post is a follow-up to my previous post, “Power of Love.”  In the early 1990’s, on a gray and frigid day, I stepped from a taxi in front of a dilapidated rusted gate. Looking through the bars toward a ramshackle building, I imagined I had stepped into an old-time horror film.  I expected to see bolts of lightning exploding across the sky and hear loud rumbles of thunder.  Black mildew covered the concrete block building and weeds grew up the walls.  It appeared as if it were in danger of crumbling away.

The most horrific part was that through the gate and inside the building there were abandoned children who were hidden away and forgotten. This place was darker and more ominous than any orphanage I had been to up until this point.  I could see my breath. I shivered from the cold and the heartbreaking conditions I knew awaited me inside.

Meeting the director of the orphanage, my friend and I were invited to take a tour of the building. There were far too many terrible sights to write about them all in this one blog post. I’ll focus on just one.  After walking down a dingy corridor, we entered the toddler’s ward. It took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. The room was filled to the four corners with shadow. I remember clouds of coal dust swirling in a small beam of light that emanated from a tiny window on one side of the room. Children were tied onto wooden chairs with a hole cut out of the middle and a bucket placed underneath. Their pants were down to their knees or around their ankles. They sat close to a coal burning stove to help keep the cold away. This is where they sat all day long.

Several little ones wandered around the room like apparitions.  When we entered the room, they glanced toward us. Their eyes immediately opened wide, and they scurried away in fear. Even with gentle coaxing, none of them dared to approach us. As I surveyed the room, I almost missed a lump of something in one of the corners. On second glance, I realized it wasn’t a lump of cloth or a piece of furniture. It was a very small child cowering there. She hid in the deepest shadows. Covered with coal dust and dressed in rags, she snuggled in tight, pressing close against the crumbling walls on both sides of her tiny body.  She was folded into herself with her arms wrapped tightly around her knees. Shivering, her head was down, buried inside her arms. She was small enough to be invisible. I imagined that’s what she hoped for. She desperately desired to blend in with the walls.

No one could hurt her if they couldn’t see her.

As I carefully approached, she lifted her head ever so slightly and peeked out at me. I knelt to her level. Breathing hard, her eyes darted from side to side. She had been discovered and there was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. She was as far away as she could get. It hadn’t worked. Now she was trapped. Like a frightened baby bird afraid of being squashed. Her primal fear radiated from her haunted eyes.

This is what the absence of love looks like. It looks like fear and torment.

Her fear took my breath away. I desperately wanted to scoop her up in my arms. To comfort her until the fear was gone. But I couldn’t. Her pain was too deep. My time was too short. Being ushered from the room by the director, we made our way through the gate and back into the taxi. I left the orphanage that day with a depth of sadness that threatened to overwhelm me. I would be forever haunted by what I saw. I didn’t know it at the time of my visit, but I was not given the opportunity to return to this orphanage, to these children. It was a deep disappointment.

To help fill the void that was left after that day, I volunteered at a foster home for abandoned children that had opened on the compound where my family and I lived. This home was run by Trudy who traveled from afar to help these abandoned children find new homes and new families. Her work was hard yet beautiful. Volunteering at Trudy’s foster home, I arrived one afternoon as usual. Taking off my shoes at the door, I sat down on the floor to play with the children. As I surveyed the room, I gasped. She was there! The little one from the orphanage who had cowered in the corner. She had been rescued from that place of darkness.

Time passed and she received love and care in Trudy’s foster home. She changed.  It was as if she were reborn a new little person. Over time, she lost the terrible fear that had gripped her heart. She blossomed. She even found her smile. I remember the day she first smiled at me when I entered the home. Her soul had been renewed as she had been loved.

This is what love does. This is what love looks like. It heals and brings life.

There are many little ones in this world whose story ends without hope or love, far too many to contemplate for long without despair; however, their stories need to be told to honor them.  This little girl’s story was one of hope. She was rescued and then loved until a waiting family overseas was found to call her own.

Lem Lem

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s