|panda-like calm through fiction|
I’ve spent a long time in Zimbabwe, arriving shortly after it gained independence. The country and its children have given me great joy and great pain- but this is life. As a member of the clergy, I’ve long been a student, perhaps even a proponent, of natural law. Natural law, at its essence, tutors us that our actions should never interfere with God's wishes as put forth in natural processes.
It was this principle that I implemented ten years ago. A young woman came to me for counsel. Her husband had been unfaithful while working on a tobacco farm a hundred miles away. He had caught HIV.
She asked my advice, unable to look up to me as she uttered the word, “divorce.” I spoke against the course, and quoted Malachi. I did not mention divortium imperfectum; an unmarried woman in Africa cannot afford to care for herself without resorting to prostitution. My omission seemed the lesser of evils.
She acquiesced, and turned to leave, but stopped. I asked what further troubled her. She accepted my advice, she said, as she still truly cared for her husband; with tears in her eyes she told me she believed the words she swore by, “in sickness and in health.” But she did not want to die. She had seen the havoc of the disease; she wished to protect herself. I explained to her gently that what she asked violated natural law, turned the marital act from a natural and blessed one into something selfish and evil.
She returned to me in tears. Several months had passed, and she was with child. She had wanted to be a mother, but she knew her disease would be passed to her son. I counseled her what she asked was against natural law; if it was His will for her child to survive, he should.
Her son was born eight months later, a beautiful boy she named Farai. Farai means happiness or rejoice. He was born with a mild case of Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome; he got his first opportunistic infection within a week.
He died a week ago on Sunday. I held him in my arms as his chest rose and fell one last time; I thanked God his eyes weren’t open as his life drifted from him- I don’t know if I could have survived seeing that. I tried to assure myself, that the precept of natural law, was larger, and more important, than that the natural end of one child.
Despondent, I turned to my colleague, a man I have respected and sought guidance from before, who said, “It is better to die in Christ, than to live separated from him.” Farai did not die in Christ, but in pain, in misery, suffering for a sin that was mine and ours as much as his father’s.
I have fought crises of faith, others and my own, before. I have begged from my knees for hope, some glimmer that this world is progressing towards something better, that great ends justify our unkind means. And instead, you redouble your support for a policy and ideology that is killing people. It's been said many times that evil wins when good men do nothing- but I believe that by acting at all, we have played again into evil's hands.
I have not lost faith in our God, but my faith in our Church and our ways is shaken. Staying past this point would do damage to the Church and my own soul, so I fear my time with the Church has come to its natural end.