More often than not, real love ain’t pretty.

It doesn’t fit into a neat little box. It isn’t defined by grandiose gestures and stirring proclamations, despite our culture’s false depictions.

Real love is painful. It demands sacrifice and surrender. Pride must be swallowed, and ego must be fought at every turn. The needs of another must be elevated over the needs of self. What a daunting, unappealing prospect!

The staffers at Sewa Ashram embody the call of Christ – “washing one another’s feet” (and arms and legs) on a daily basis.

The love of parent for child is an easy one. That unconditional love is present from the get-go for most. But what about our friends? Our family? What about strangers? Even worse, what about our enemies?

Acts of Love

Here at Sewa Ashram, I’m surrounded by Love. The examples I see on a daily basis leave me in awe. They inspire me. And they shame me. I’m dwarfed by giants of love here, and I’m no match.

I see people caring for others with an attitude that can only be described as divine, in which monumental significance is found in the smallest of acts.

The smallest gestures have the greatest impact, giving patients a renewed sense of self.

What am I to do when I watch a wheelchair-bound patient tenderly feeding the man now confined to his death bed? How do I reconcile the cheerful demeanor on a staffer’s face with the urinal bottles he’s busy cleaning out, after collecting them from patients?

Everywhere I turn here at the Ashram, I watch love in action.  I see staffers washing and scrubbing bodies of other grown men, which have been sullied with every imaginable filth. I see gaping, festering wounds being mended. I watch the scraggly beards of street life being shaved clean. I catch a glimpse of the staff member who fetches a blanket, tucking it around a patient who’s feeling the morning chill. I watch as three men surround a patient, lay their hands on him and pray, after informing him he has mere weeks left to live.

Love is far from glamorous, but it’s powerful. And even if you’re wheelchair-bound, you can put your faith into action.

Power

These smallest of gestures pierce my heart, but I’m not the only one. The Love that permeates this place is palpable for all who enter the front gate.

“There are two kinds of people who come here from off the streets,” a staffer explained to me soon after I arrived. “One will be loud and angry, swearing all the time. The other will be quiet, not saying a word to anyone.

“But as time goes by, the loud patient will grow silent. And the quiet patient will start to open up and begin speaking.”

Real love is powerful, and its effect is universal. Love cuts through the layers, breaking down the hardened walls of anger and defensiveness. And it builds up the foundations of dignity, empowering people with a renewed sense of worth.

Sewa Ashram is transforming lives through this power of Love. It may not be pretty, but it’s surely divine.

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Next Steps
    • Do you know anyone who may be interested in volunteering at Sewa Ashram? They are always looking for folks willing to come and offer their expertise, whether it’s in nursing, physical therapy, agricultural development or otherwise. If you, or anyone you know, might be interested, please contact the staff at the Ashram. It’s guaranteed to be life changing in all the best ways.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Stephen Crane is a year-long fellow with World Next Door. He has a bachelor's degree in theology from Calvin College and a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University. He has a passion for overlooked places and people and would snowboard at all times if it were possible!

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Comments

  1. Amy Sorrells said... 

    Reply

    March 28th, 2012 at 9:33 am  

    Beautiful article and photos, Stephen. I’m ashamed at how far I have to go to love like this, too.

  2. Doug Rotman said... 

    Reply

    March 28th, 2012 at 11:08 am  

    “Love cuts through the layers, breaking down the hardened walls of anger and defensiveness.” – well said!

  3. Jo Nading said... 

    Reply

    March 28th, 2012 at 11:48 am  

    “precious” may not be the word most would use for this article – but somehow that’s the word that came to my mind immediately…with your photos and with your descriptive words that painted a picture in my mind’s eye. These people are loving and caring for the least of these…not just talking about it. The people in need are precious to God – beloved. The time involved is precious…not to be wasted. The caregivers are precious – so valuable. and the coming together of all this preciousness….priceless….and eternal. Thanks Stephen for sharing so well. I, too, have a long way to go…

    • Steve-O said... 

      Reply

      March 29th, 2012 at 10:08 am  

      The entire place truly fostered a sense of love and service among both staffers and patients. Even new patients would soon be lending a hand to others.
      Love truly is contagious!! And it provides a glimpse of the Divine..

  4. Chargers fan said... 

    Reply

    March 28th, 2012 at 10:54 pm  

    Nice words. Thanks for sharing!

    • Steve-O said... 

      Reply

      March 29th, 2012 at 10:04 am  

      Thanks bro’, even if you are a Chargers fan.. :)

  5. Roxi said... 

    Reply

    March 29th, 2012 at 11:02 pm  

    Steven,

    I am so thankful for the love and care that the patients at Sewa Ashram receive from their Caregivers on a daily basis. This article is another reminder that there are good people in the world doing amazing things.
    Thanks for sharing another inspirational article.

  6. Tetiana said... 

    Reply

    April 9th, 2012 at 4:59 am  

    Thank you. It is a beautiful story of true love. It both humbles and inspires.

  7. praveenkumar said... 

    Reply

    April 12th, 2012 at 1:52 am  

    hai iam praveen iref boy

  8. praveenkumar said... 

    Reply

    April 12th, 2012 at 1:56 am  

    hai stephen iam iref boy you know you and me play to vollyball iam capiten i love you so much

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