Daily devotion

Beauty Test

I have seen evidence of God’s presence in the most unexpected places. During a trip to Nepal, a therapist gave my wife and me a tour of the Green Pastures Hospital, which specializes in leprosy rehabilitation. As we walked along an outdoor corridor, I noticed in a courtyard one of the ugliest human beings I have ever seen. Her hands were bandaged in gauze and she had deformed stumps for feet. Her nose had shrunken away so that, looking at her, I could see into her sinus cavity. Her eyes, mottled and covered with callus, let in no light; she was totally blind. Scars covered patches of skin on her arms.

Later we returned along the same corridor. This creature had crawled to the very edge of the walkway, pulling herself along the ground by plan ding her elbows and dragging her body. Without hesitation my wife ben and put her arm around the woman, who rester her heat against Janet’s shoulder and began singing a song in Nepali, a tune that we all instantly recognized: “Jesus Loves Me.”

“Dahnmaya is on of our most devoted church members,” the physical therapist later told us. “Most of our patients are Hindus, but we have a little Christian chapel here, and Dahnmay comes every time the door opens. She’s a prayer warrior. She loves to greet and welcome every visitor who comes to Green Pastures, and no doubt she heard us talking as we walked along the corridor.”

A few months later we heard that Dahnmaya had died. Close to my desk I keep a photo that I snapped just as she was singing to Janet. Whenever I feel polluted by the beauty-obsessed culture I live in–where people pay exorbitant sums to achieve some impossible ideal of beauty while hospitals like Green Pastures scrape by on charity crumbs–I pull out that photo. I see two beautiful women: my wife, smiling sweetly, wearing a brightly colored Nepali outfit she had bought the day before, holding in her arms an old crone who would flunk any beauty test ever devised except the one that matters most. Out of that deformed, hollow shell of a body, the light of God’s presence shines out. The Holy Spirit found a home.

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