People of the Way


Limbs dry and calloused
Hobbling and stumbling
Yet without an ache
Nasal bridge sunken yet still detecting
The odour of ulcerated limbs
Disgusting even to me.
Eyes failing to close
With tears over-flowing
The blindness of an adherent iris
So that I cannot see myself;
Yet when the mirror remains silent
Know I’m not the beauty of holiness -
Unfit for the holy place
And the holy one.
   Coming as I am
   And welcomed as I am
   Received with respect
   By fellow-pilgrims
   Sharing stories on a journey
   That goes beyond Canterbury.
   Transformed in the relationship
   Of discovering a shared identity
   That survives rejection
   In fellowship proving our faith
   As we walk ahead;
   The beauty of wholeness growing
   As we approach the holy place
   And the holy one together.
   March 2010
   Photographs: André du Plessis
   Meeting Rebecca Mutanti, near Pemba, Zambia, April 2007 

Thoughts of friends affected by leprosy as we worked together on a paper for The Leprosy Mission International - Towards Transformation - A Journey in Diversity:

Click here for photographs from the 1970s: Leprosy at Chikankata