I just finished reading about the bush fires in Australia. Some of them have been started by people, who, after they were put out, went back to start them over again. The death toll is now ( at 7:38 p.m. on 1-9-09) over 200. Hospitals, state of the art hospitals, have run out of morphine. I cannot begin to imagine the horror of that.

For those who have never experienced what it is like to be around a burn victim, let me share a quick memory...

When I was around nine years old my brother, Timothy, (not yet seven years old) fell off a roof, ruptured his stomach and spleen, and broke his arm and leg. The doctors were not sure he would live. One of the nurses, feeling that a visit from his "big" sister might help him, convinced my Mom to sneak me into the hospital. (Back then, children under 18 were not allowed into the hospital as visitors.)

I went and saw my brother. His tiny body hooked up to a labyrinth of tubes and held down by a full-body cast. I remember how tiny he looked. He smiled when he saw me. It was a good visit. As we left, I noticed the other children in the room, wondering why they were in the hospital.

Back then, patients were kept in huge rooms together called wards. The beds lined up along the walls like a dormitory. Special rooms were placed just outside the ward for various procedures.

Mom took me from the ward. Just before the turn to the elevator, we passed a room where a little child was crying in the most awful way. It was like the sound that a wounded animal makes. (Multiply this sound by hundreds and you will get an idea of what the caregivers in Australia are dealing with as they try to help burn victims.)

I looked in and saw this poor baby, not more than three years old, lying on a table. Most of this child's body looked like raw meat. Several nurses, some holding him down while the others debrided his burns. Debriding is when the dead skin is peeled away, so that new skin would form.

I remember seeing tears running down some of the nurses' faces. My Mom hurried me along the corridor. In the elevator, I asked her what had happened to that child. Her eyes filled with tears, also. With the honesty that sometimes was her curse, she told me that someone had burned him and now the doctors and nurses where trying to save his life. I never asked more questions...the simple statement that "someone burned him," was more than my young mind could fathom.

This one incident has stayed with me for 46 years. Each time I hear about one human beings cruelty to another, I think of this innocent child.


"Man's inhumanity to man" was coined by poet Robert Burns from his poem
From Man was made to Mourn: A Dirge in 1785. It is what I think of at times like these, when with sincere incredulity, I wonder, "How? Why?"


The victims of the bush fires are not alone in their suffering, however. Throughout the world a huge majority of voiceless, unseen, often unwanted souls suffer in ways most of us cannot fathom. They are the masses of humanity who, through no fault of their own, are too dirty to touch, too diseased to go near, too smelly to hold, too poor to be included.

The good news is, there are those ordinary humans with extraordinary abilities to Love that go where no one else wishes to tread. People like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Jackie Huggins, Jimmy Carter, and thousands like them who are not famous, who daily speak for, work for, care for those who are forgotten.


This valentine is for "Suffering Souls" everywhere and for all those who have dedicated their lives to serving them. May this simple outpouring of Love, this simple act of seeing your Light, bring comfort, ease pain and inspire hope.



Anonymous said…
This is so moving Linda, what strength was forged from the depths of the story you lived!

We may not be able to alleviate the suffering that continues to grow but we can daily renew our commitment to love anyway.

Thanks for sharing your light and love in this poignant post.

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