With the "Blessed”

The stench of the mud hut with the tin roof that was home to a woman dying of breast cancer, her two children in torn, dirty clothes, and their cow—that stench will never leave me.

tree in AfricaAfter 12 days in the heart of Africa, I found myself almost numb to the poverty. So many seemingly impossible situations. The average life expectancy is 55. The orphans, street children, child wives, AIDS victims, deformed bodies, dirt-floored schools, and hospital wards of 20+ patients with screenless windows and swarming flies—it is easy to be overwhelmed, numb, and ultimately apathetic. And yet in my Ignatian prayer, sitting with Christ as we bumped along dusty roads, I was overwhelmed by the very presence of God in so many people we met.

In the Beatitudes, Christ spoke of “the blessed.” I read that word as “God is with and working through.” Blessed (God is with and working through) the poor in spirit, those who hunger for righteousness, the peacemaker, the meek. Further: God is with and working through the sisters who ran the orphanage, the Tanzanian doctor who hiked through the banana trees to get to the mud huts of the hospice patients, the missionaries who took a huge leap of faith to leave their homeland and provide care and education for the children, the Tanzanian teachers who work to change societal attitudes towards the handicapped, the pastors who preached gently against the violation of women’s rights and bodies in an indigenous culture that has accepted this for several thousand years. Blessed are so many.

They only rarely make the news, but they are out there, millions of them, laboring daily, stretching limited resources, answering a call to provide for the impoverished and the marginalized of this world. I pray that we who are blessed with resources will recognize that God is with and working through us too, helping us loosen our grip on what we see as “ours” so that we can give of those resources freely to a world in need.

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Lisa Kelly
Lisa Kelly is a wife, mother, and Ignatian Associate living in Omaha, Nebraska. She works to help organizations integrate spirituality into their planning and systems. She and her husband, Tom, completed the 19th Annotation in 2005, just prior to spending two years living in the Dominican Republic with their three young children, supporting the work of the Jesuit Institute for Latin American Concern. Additionally they have lived in El Salvador and Bolivia for extended periods.


  1. Amen, and thank you. I have been to Tanzania and spent mission time in DR Congo, leaving during the last election, due to insecurity. They are out there, the hard workers, hearts filled with compassion and desire to be Christ in the world to those who need care and ministry of presence. May people be raised up to continue God’s work in the world.

  2. It was very brave of you to go there, thank you for writing about it for us. You know, 55 is quite old for the majority of human beings throughout history…it’s just us middle and upper class Westerners that are spoilt…

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this post. We forget that all is gift and that we are asked to look after whatever resources we are given and to use them to help those who have not been given such resources. We do need to be reminded that nothing is really “ours”.


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