A child lies on the sand, his body washed up by the surf. He should be running, jumping, playing in those waves. Giggling and wiggling his toes into the sand. But the only movement is that caused by the shifting of those tiny sand particles. The ceaseless flow of the water.
He looks as if he is sleeping. Peaceful. At rest. As if he should be curled up on a blanket, nestled in the loving arms of his mama. But she, too, was consumed by the unforgiving, merciless waves. As were his brother and so many others.As I gaze upon the photographs of that young boy, I ache to take him into my arms. To breathe life into that still form. To deliver him safely into the arms of his grieving father, who has lost all.
As I gaze upon my own children, safely grown; as I hold my grandsons, their bodies healthy, their futures bright, my heart is full of gratitude and joy. And, yet, the ache remains. For a child is lost. Children are lost. More and more and more children are lost. And I cannot pick them up from the sand. I cannot breathe life into their still forms. I cannot meet them at the end of their perilous journeys or the edges of their treacherous borders, or catch them as they climb from the tops of the trains. I cannot find them in the night.
What am I to do? What is any person of faith, or any person with a conscience to do when the need is overwhelming and resources are thin?
It’s fairly simple to click on the donate button of a favorite charity, think, “Whew! I’ve done my bit.” and be done with it. But, is that enough?
It’s lovely to ship a pile of clothing or blankets to a far off land, for folks in need. But, is that enough?
It’s interesting to jump in a plane and go to one of those far off lands to get our boots on the ground and start distributing those goods – whether those folks are ready for us or not. (Yeah, please make sure the locals really want you there. Sometimes there are better ways to assist in a crisis, through agencies who ALREADY have their boots on the ground.) But is that enough?
And then, when all is said and done, do we bounce back to our regular lives, saying, well, I donated this amount of money and all these items and I went to Timbuktu and fed this many people and please pat my back?
And there is a child lying on a beach.
What does a good and faithful person do? We pray. We donate. And we roll up our sleeves and we work. We work. We work. And we don’t stop working until there are no more people in need. Anywhere.
We use our dollars and our muscles and our voices and our votes and every last ounce of our energies to save the children and their mamas and their papas. To keep them off the beaches and out of the train stations. To keep them fed and sheltered and clothed and inoculated and educated and safe and well.
So that the sand and the waves are for joy and giggles and wiggles. And the digging in of toes.
That’s what we do.