God in Laughter
Photo was scanned from a disposable film camera I used after the freelancer failed to show up.
Excerpted from The Gospel of Father Joe, my nonfiction book about an orphange/preschool/AIDS hospice built illegally in the squatter slums of Bangkok.
Among other things, his Mercy Centre cares for and educates children infected in utero with AIDS. I took this photo of him in May 2000 at the bedside of 11-year-old Boi, an AIDS child who would die in April 2001.
“As long as they’re alive, they need to live,” Father Joe said. “If they survive past age three, they’ll be with us for the next seven, eight, nine, ten years. That’s how long they live typically. We don’t talk about it, but we don’t not talk about it. They have AIDS and they go to school and they live the rest of their lives with us. It is what it is. We walk through it with them, and you look for the joy in life. You try to laugh with them. That’s very important. Laughter. That’s where God is, of course, in the laughter.”
He nodded toward Boi.
“It’s rare for any of them to survive past age twelve,” he said softly. “Boi. That’s the word for the fuzzy stuff at the top of the forehead, that little bit of nappy hair. You know, the softest of the soft part right there at the front. Anyhow . . . that’s this little girl’s name. Boi.”
It sounded like boy. He kneeled beside her, rested an arm on her Mickey Mouse bedsheets, and caressed her forehead with two fingers combed through the softest of the soft part.
“She is truly and entirely and completely innocent,” he said. “She has never harmed anyone. Jesus was the Lamb of God—the innocent one. Lambs don’t harm anyone. They can be dumb and do dumb things, like us, just like us, but they don’t hurt anyone. They do no harm. Like Boi.”
If interested, you may download Chapter 1 on publisher's website HERE