On May 31, the Feast of the Visitation, Sister Peggy and I went to La Clinica Guadalupana. By the grace of God, the generosity of people concerned about access to healthcare in the colonias and more miracles than we could count, we started the clinic fifteen years ago. The vision of the clinic was the vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe: to create a space of healing and welcome for all people but especially the most marginalized and forgotten. We felt called to provide basic medical services with a strong emphasis on prevention of disease, and to make that care available regardless of ability to pay. We tried to keep everything as simple as possible which was quite a challenge given the realities the business of healthcare.
I left the clinic three years ago when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Peggy left a year later and the clinic has been closed for re-organization for almost one year. Because the need for services is as great as ever, we are confident that in God’s Providence the doors will soon be open again under the auspices of another larger community health center.
Peggy and I were there to pick up a few items with sentimental value and supplies that we can use in our ministry to handicapped children in Mexico. Of course everything we saw, from the scale to weigh patients to the large rosary on the exam room wall, had sentimental value. The memories of so many people and events whispered around each corner. “Do you remember when this washer/dryer was donated?” “Look! There are two dogs laying under the trees…just like always. People are still dumping their pets in the desert.” Every drawer and cupboard was full of stories.
It is hard to leave a place you love- even when you know that the time is right- even when you know that you gave all you had to give. We trust that someone else will have the skills and resources to take it to the next level. We did what God asked us to do: to bring healthcare where there was none and where no one else wanted to go.
The Mexican elder tree in the front of the clinic had been cut down. It was so beautiful and fragrant in its day. But I noticed that a good strong shoot is coming from the dead stump. It reminded me that this is God’s way.
Driving away I gave thanks for each patient and every co-worker. And as I had done so many evenings as I left the clinic I prayed a blessing and entrusted each one to Our Lady of Guadalupe’s tender care. There was no avoiding the sting of tears, the aching heart, the deep awareness that what once was will not be again. My heart holds all the stories of healing that happened within those walls. Gratitude is the only response that soothes: profound gratitude for those who were part of the journey of faith and service that was La Clinica Guadalupana.