pearls around the neck • 203
Truly, it constitutes the very nature of our human experience. Of course, one has to live long enough
to understand that God either blesses or He redeems. They are the same thing, really, blessing and
redemption. One just takes the long road to reach the other.
Discovered by a group of school children, only one day old, buried to his neck under a pile of shale and
exposed to the Kenyan sun, Kasisi knows about redemption. Or, he will. Prisca is teaching him. The
“mama” at New Life Home in Kisumu, Kenya, Prisca knows much about the subject of redemption.
Near the banks of Lake Victoria, one of God’s most spectacular creative endeavors, where at sunset
local children gather water, ever watchful for the hippopotamus in the tall grasses, Prisca knows. She
chose Kasisi’s name and claims its promises for him every evening as she rocks the slumbering infant.
“You are God’s child. Precious one, you are unique and you are wonderfully made. As a beloved child
of God, you will not be without “kasisi” again.”
Kasisi means shade, protection. The circumstances of this baby’s tragic introduction into the world are
being redeemed by the power of a name given by a compassionate mother.
When a tragedy is understood as a starting place for redemption, healing begins. I learned this truth in
Kenya, from Prisca and Kasisi. I did not have to be defined by my desperately sad and lonely childhood.
The rocks that buried me to my neck were different than those that buried Kasisi: less visible but no less
damaging. An instilled lack of worth, an absence of protection. A childhood lacking nurture weighs
heavily on one’s soul, like rocks. And, like rocks, they can be removed. One at a time and one at a time
and one at a time until finally it is a whole mountain that has been displaced. Love moves mountains,
and compassion exposes hidden treasures. The word “mother” becomes infinitely more powerful as a
verb than as a noun.
And then: redemption. Many times, I wonder what name Prisca would have given me had I been in her
arms. Certainly, God has a redemptive name for me and one day, I will be blessed by hearing His voice
speaking the name he has chosen.
Author: Tina Haynie, Kenya, 2011
Illustration: Catherine Beeckman