Friday, December 28, 2012

"I, Too, Have Lost Children"

“I, too, have lost children. Two. My twin girls drowned together in a boating accident in Zimbabwe. They were 13 years old. With one phone call, both gone. Yes, God gave me twin daughters. With difficulty I birthed them. With despair I buried them. No one promised me that they or I would grow to old age.”

My new housekeeper, Kudzai, came to America four years ago with her family. When we first met, I was drawn to her compassionate and peaceful interior. She didn’t rush around like the last housekeeper who was feverishly engaged in relay racing through my apartment.

Kudzai is different. She gently washes each dish and joyfully waxes the floors with her African chants. The countertops have never been brighter, and the winter bedspread contains no creases. I welcomed her soul energy into my home.

A week after the Connecticut massacre claimed 26 lives, we stood together in front of my hanukiah while she calmly and courageously spoke her sad story. Kudzai, a new African immigrant, understood more than I could comprehend about the dark journeys of these grief-stricken parents in Newtown.

“I am someone who knows about loss, grief, surrender, and love. I know the pain of those mothers, and I want them to know that they are not alone and that they too will survive.
From the beginning, before I faced Natalie and Natasha’s funerals, I kneeled at my bed, and I talked with God. I asked God to give me strength to survive. Perhaps I would get sick. Or lose my mind. Or fall under the weight of these losses. I only asked for God to stay alive in me. And then one day I surrendered and God saw me through.”  

“For ten years, no children were born to me. My only son, now 33, was my life. At the age of 35 I became pregnant with a girl. And then two years later, another girl was born. I felt that God had lifted me up like Job. Two girls returned to play in my home. A sense of gratitude pervaded my brokenness. My heart was busy in love again.”

“I have been faithful all my life. I believe in a God who can hold my burdens. I have a faith and a relationship with God that nurtured me during my pain. I have a faith that the people in Newtown need more than ever."

What do we know about the people who come through our doors? Do we care enough to ask? Kudzai is no longer my new housekeeper. She is becoming my spiritual mentor and friend. “Rabbi," she concluded, "you must know God."

At that moment, all I knew was what she taught me. In her presence, the Divine shines. I am a mere reflection of her faithfulness.

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