Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What does it mean to you?

I have a large family and a diverse group of friends.  The topic of God often comes up in our conversations.  My recent trip to India taught me a great deal about my relationship with God.

Every other week, volunteers who work with the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa's sisters) in Kolkata tour the home for leprosy patients in Titagarh.  The center is run by the MC brothers.  Treatment for leprosy often lasts a few months or even a year.  If the disease is not addressed until the later stages, physical deformities and loss of limbs or eyesight may occur.  Some patients are treated and can then return home.  Others stay indefinitely because of their severe disabilities.  Lingering social stigma and physical handicaps often prevent those with (or who used to have) leprosy from holding a job.  On the grounds of this home, there is also a large building where textiles are handmade by the patients so they can make a living.  The work they do is simply amazing, and I was pleasantly surprised to see exactly what they created.  Titagarh is the only place in the world where the saris worn by the sisters are made.  The patients also spin and weave cloth used for the bedsheets in the sisters' many homes for the poor.  The center also houses an outpatient clinic for villagers, vast gardens, child care for the workers' little ones, physical therapy suites, and a workshop where custom prosthetics are made. 

At the end of the tour, the brother leading us answered our questions.  One volunteer asked if the center was self-sustaining.  The brother looked puzzled, so she rephrased her inquiry.  "How is the center supported?"  His eyes lit up in understanding.  "God's Providence," he proclaimed.  The volunteer really wanted to know if all the food needed to support the patients was grown on the grounds.  The brother told her that, yes, most of the food was grown there.  Then he shrugged and added that if there was not enough, the brothers simply bought more at the local market. 

I was struck by how unconcerned this man seemed at such an important undertaking.  Hundreds of vulnerable people rely on the brothers for their very lives, and he had not a worry in the world.  He went on to say that the MCs receive all their money and supplies from unsolicited donations.  There is no earthly way to guarantee they will have what they need each day, but that does not seem to bother anyone.  This total reliance on God touched me.  It made me question my own worries.  I know that worrying doesn't make anything secure, but I do it anyway.  Now, here was God physically showing me what can happen when you trust in Him wholeheartedly.  I am so blessed to have visited this beautiful home.  I have rarely seen such joy on the face of each person I met in one place.  I thank God for this gift every day.

No matter where you are in your spiritual journey (even if you don't think you're on one), I'd like to know what faith means to you.  Just know that whoever you are, you are welcome here :)

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