We are all the beggin’ blind

Categorized as Rhonda's Posts

It’s a hot Asian night. Darkness has fallen, curtain like, shutting out sun’s rays, and still. The heat’s unrelenting. We’re on our way to the night market, and we come to a bridge that crosses a fetid, stinking channel. And there they sit. One of them’s missin’ a piece of a limb. The other sits, legs crossed, eyes closed. She clutches a cup in one gnarled hand, and the coins, they clink, clink, clink…

It’s Friday night, and I’m pinching myself. After months of planning, excitement and longing, we are here in Chiang Mai. The Parent Vision Trip (PVT) has officially begun.

Eager to see, hear, taste, smell, feel. To absorb everything about this place, this culture, these people who inhabit the same planet. Who fall asleep and wake up beneath Papa’s great, spreading sky.

That is us, and here we go.

We’re walking to the night market. In day’s light, the streets teem with traffic. American-made trucks share road space with songthaews and tuk tuks and vans. I catch my breath as scooters thread crazily between rushing lanes of traffic, inches from screaming metal. Inches from death.

Here in the darkness, the traffic still rushes by, but street vendors now crowd each side. The scent of sewage drifts up through sidewalks, merchants reach and call, hawking their wares, and everywhere, the scent of that native cuisine.

At a street cart on the corner, a young woman’s making rotee, a Thai pastry that I’m wanting to try. Her hands fly, flinging dough balls into crepes, which she fills with fruit and fries in oil. She offers chocolate drizzle or a shot of sweetened, condensed milk over top. We will definitely be trying these later.


Lights, lights everywhere. Cheap clothing, trinkets, Buddhas, souvenirs and knockoffs. It’s like…it’s exactly like the Shipshewana flea market here that draws tourists by the thousands. Only (thank God), this market’s Asian, not Amish or country (you locals will get it). It’s Shipshe on ‘roids in Chiang Mai.

It’s so late. It’s so loud. It’s so pungent. It’s so…crazy. And all at once in the madness, I see him. In a clothing kiosk, a little boy is singing. We stop, captivated. Stooping low, we reach out a hand. He does not look at us. Doesn’t flick a lash. He just keeps singing his song. In that crowded, wild place, a boy’s singing.




The throng presses and shifts. My handsome son slips an arm around me. It’s enough, really, this being together, we three and our new racer friends. And then it’s time to go.


Back through the crowd. Back towards the guest house. Back up and back over that bridge where they sit, those two beggars, in the dark.

Over that stinking canal, we pass them. Her eyes, I see, are closed. I wonder if she is blind.

Her eyes are closed, but mine this night are wide open. For I have seen myself.

I have been her. I am her, the beggin’ blind. Trapped in disease, full a cripple. Unable.

I have been him. I am him, one of those deformed. Pieces of my heart clean gone missing. Needing wholeness.

I am the girl with the issue of blood that soaked through blankets and robes, life force draining. A lifetime of hemorrhaging fear. Shame. Contempt. Confined to a mat on the floor.

I am her. I am him. I am them. The beggin’ blind. The one eaten; a leper. Blood pouring down.

I am them, those for whom Jesus comes. He, Friend of sinners and sick ones, comes reaching.

Today, I count myself blessed to be in their company. Yes, they the blind beggars, the diseased. For it’s our need that invites, our helplessness that draws. It’s our emptiness that begs for the fillin’.

It’s for them and for me that He comes. For us all, rich and poor, small and lowly, the beggin’ blind.

On a bridge in Chiang Mai sits a beggar. Clink. Clink. Clink.

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