Editor’s note: Missioner Cindy Mizes shares two powerful experiences of human hands rescuing people in need and relates them to our call to unity with others.
This past spring while visiting the Compassionate Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, I was given a tour of Hope Hospice. There I met the lovely and memorable “Miss Daisy.” Miss Daisy isn’t your ordinary centenarian. First, she doesn’t look anywhere near her age (she’s 102 years old). Second, Miss Daisy has an incredible survival story, which she told to me.
One night while sleeping in her small shack (a one-room wooden board house), Miss Daisy felt heat rising against her back. She grabbed her walking stick and as she struggled to take her frail body outside she heard a voice behind her call out, “Grandmother.” She turned to the voice and said “Come!”
She was then immediately grabbed, lifted up from the flames of the burning shack and carried across the street to safety. “The fire was blazing,” as Daisy continues to describe the terrifying night, when all of a sudden the gas tank exploded and “fire was everywhere!”
When the rescue crew arrived, they asked Daisy why she wasn’t crying as her house and all her possessions were going up in flames. She said, “God is taking care of me, God is taking care of me.”
Miss Daisy does not have any children or grandchildren,, so the person who called her “Grandmother” and lifted her from the fire was likely a neighbor or someone in her community that risked their life to rescue an old lady who lived all alone. However, Miss Daisy is convinced that the person who rescued her was sent by God, an angel that pulled her from the flames.
Miss Daisy is a true survivor. She now evangelizes at Hope Hospice from her wheelchair, telling anyone who will listen about God’s saving grace. I was struck by her courage and her powerful conviction that God is her only true savior. Miss Daisy’s story touched my heart and caused me to reflect on the times that God called and rescued me from the fires lit by my own selfish desires.
I was once again reminded of God’s miraculous life-giving intervention when I visited Holy Innocent Center in Kingston, where infants born with birth defects and severely disabled young children are lovingly cared for by the Missionaries of the Poor (MOP) Sisters. Here I had the privilege to be with infants who can only be described as “miracle babies.” I tenderly held an infant who had no limbs but had the brightest little smile that brought tears to my eyes. And I held the tiny fragile hand of an infant with hydrocephalus (a condition in which an overabundance of fluid in the brain causes the baby’s head to enlarge.) As these children were being bathed, fed, and cared for by the MOP Sisters, I recalled the love and mercy of Christ, who calls all children to come to Him, “for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them“ (Mt 19:14).
Witnessing the lives and stories of amazing people who have survived the most incredible calamities with unwavering courage is in stark contrast to seeing those who neglect or refuse to accept the value of human life and acknowledge the freedom that comes only from God. As a citizen of the United States I love my country. But with the recent violence, rampant prejudice, and apparent lack of dignity for human life in my own country, I find it difficult to see how we are truly united. The same is true in Jamaica, where escalating violence has resulted in increased death rates across the country.
Still, I see unity in the hearts and courageous attitudes of survivors like Miss Daisy who invite God to “come” as their rescuer. I also see unity in the innocent lives of infants and children who struggle every day just to stay alive and whom God has invited to “come” to Him. These are true believers who understand God’s mercy and the sanctity of life.
These two experiences caused me to pause and ask myself: When have I neglected to rescue someone out of the flames, to console someone who is lonely or depressed, or to care for someone unable to care for themselves? If I failed to see or seek out opportunities to love and serve my neighbor, then I am guilty of not standing in unity with them and I have missed the whole purpose of God’s gift of life.
Reflection question: How have you either lent or received a rescuing hand that extended God’s grace?