Tag Archives: Children

Paris & Children

Sao Paulo Grouping.
Work can be hard to come by in Sao Paulo. Sometimes it is easier to just hang out on the steps of the Grand Theater.

I believe we are brothers and sisters, all of us, sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven.  I have not yet been to every country, but, I have been to every continent. I have found that kindness, love and compassion unite us regardless of political or religious belief. We are, all of us, one family.

Arc de Triomphe
At the tip of the Champs-Élysées, Napoléon’s arch is still the grand entrance to Paris.

So, when events transpire like that which took place in Paris last week, the ground beneath our feet quakes with the shaking of our collective faith. Anger burns, like bile, in the back of our throats and we want to do something, anything to stop the violence.

I acknowledge the existence of evil. There are those who would take without giving, lie without conscience, hurt without reason, compel without care and kill without remorse. Their numbers are growing.

The events of Paris are repeated regularly in places of less visibility, and we do not notice, except when these events touch the outskirts of our neighborhoods or reach the screens of our mobile devices.

Evil thrives when our faith in God and each other is diminished. Mistrust increases when our differences, rather than our similarities are emphasized. Fear takes root when acts of violence claim the lives of our friends and our children.

Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters give away their rights to make a difference as leaders of small and large countries tell us tales we should not believe. We do not build a better world when we ignore an approaching tsunami of self-interest.

September 11 should remind us of lessons taught, though not yet learned. The same God who made us all will not take from us the agency to choose our own paths. Our condemnation will grow from our reluctance to use this agency to bless the lives of our brothers and sisters. Evil grows in the cracks and crags of our own cowardice when we do not rise up to condemn and combat its growing influence.

Bande Village, DR Congo
The men and children of Bande Village in DR Congo.

And they suffer most who are not able to comprehend a world of cruel intent–the children. Yet, it is in the eyes of the children that I see hope. It is in the hearts of the children that I find love, and compassion, and the courage to be good.

I believe God loves us and that he has a plan for us. For some, this plan includes great deeds. For most of us, this plan includes simple acts of kindness. Wherever and whenever I travel, I see evidence of His plan in the eyes of our children.

 

The Long Walk Home

On The Path

School was out.  I would meet him on the path.

Halfway.

I could see him, standing there.  He didn’t have far to go.

I waved.  He didn’t.

“Come on,” I shouted.

 

He didn’t move.

I could see his face, from a distance.

“What’s wrong?”

Then I heard it growl.  Behind a tree.  It barked.

I walked faster.

It barked again.  Advancing.

I could see it.

The dog was small. To me. I smiled, not realizing I had been holding my breath.

It posed no threat.

But he was small, too. So small. To him, the dog was big. Huge. Terrible. Mean.

I stopped.

The menace was between us.  He would not pass.

He looked at me for help and shuddered.  I could see his eyes well up.  The sob was uncontrollable, involuntary.

“It’s just a puppy,” I said.  “He won’t bite.  You can make it.”

He didn’t know that.  He wasn’t sure.  To him the threat was real.

Sharp teeth, bared.

I closed the gap.  I challenged the foe.  I vanquished the demon.

He held my hand as we walked home. His little body shook with sobs he tried to hide.  We didn’t speak.

That night, with some time and distance, he told me about the monster.  It blocked his way.  It threatened his life.  It captured him and wouldn’t let him go.  It was too big, too scary.

I saved his life. He said.

I laughed and held him on my lap. I sang a song to help him sleep and went to bed.

I dreamed.

The way was dark.  The threat was real.  I could not pass.  I felt the violent sob shake my soul.

You can make it.  I heard him say.

I wasn’t sure.  I didn’t know.  I couldn’t see the way.

In the dark I reached out.

He took my hand and we went on.

African Eyes–in Lubumbashi, DRC

They say Africa changes you. If you’ve been to Africa, spent time there, visited the people, you will understand.  I’ve been to Africa four times. This was my first time in Lubumbashi. I was surprised. My own stereotypes were both reinforced and shattered. In Lubumbashi, a fragile peace hung over the city as oppressive as the heat and humidity, infusing a cultural angst almost as heavy . I was the outsider. I was different. The children called me “Muzungu”, white face, not a compliment. They smiled and laughed, not with me. My camera lens brought them running, surrounding me, dancing, playing and posing. In their eyes I saw joy, and innocence. The adults looked on, skeptical, questioning, challenging. Their eyes were reserved, hooded, holding back, keeping their stories from me. Many turned away. Some shouted insults. Those that did not were watching to see what I would do with their likeness. I took their pictures. I took them with me. I took them in, a part of me. I will not forget. In their African eyes I will never be the same.