Poverty is Worn Like a Cloak.

July 9, 2012

It’s the second day since we’ve arrived in Kolkata. Just outside of the guesthouse that we’re staying at, people are lying on the sidewalks, bathing on the streets, and sleeping. Poverty is worn like a cloak in this part of Kolkata. Many of us don’t know how to respond to such desperate and obvious poverty. Some are numb, some sad, and others confused.

Walking down the streets, there are a lot of droppings everywhere. Cow poop, dog poop, and maybe human poop too. It’s difficult to tell the difference. I would walk by droppings and think, Wow that comes out of me too, which for some reason made me toilet avoidant and very disgusted with myself. The bathrooms here aren’t luxurious, but they also aren’t outhouses. There are “squatty potties,” with a cup water to splash yourself with. I’d walk around all day until I could get home and use the bathroom, and I’d ask God for help every time that I did.

This morning was special, yet difficult.

We went to mass with the Sister’s of Charity at “Mother’s House.” It felt like water to my soul to pray and worship together as a team with the sisters. The people on the streets make us thirst deeply for something of life in response to the stifling amount of poverty everywhere. However, it was difficult to concentrate and engage in the liturgy and prayer. I shifted around the floor trying to make myself cooler in some way, but it wasn’t possible. I was frustrated because I was so hot and uncomfortable. I realized in the same second that I’ve often given Jesus my full focus and attention when the conditions were bearable, but Jesus is still Jesus when I’m hot. He’s still Jesus when there is poop all over the ground. He’s still Jesus when I’m disgusted with myself. He’s still Jesus, no matter what.

I genuinely do take some sort of comfort that he chose to eliminate waste, like us humans, without toilets, into a hole, and without toilet paper. God chose to become lowly and to become like us humans didn’t gross him out. The cringing is slowly lessening as God helps me to enter Kolkata’s reality. And if I want to enter it, I have to be human too.

by Sasha