Friday, November 6, 2009

We Carry Them

We are both wearing babies, me and this girl, barely eight.
I am folding laundry and she is walking for water, or for food,
or away from bullets, from fire, from rape. We are both barefoot,
but I am standing on carpet and she is crossing sand,
wading through deserts. We have both made our carrying cloths
but mine is soft and clean while hers is a tired shawl, barely a rag.

I want to take her into my house and hold the baby so she can rest.
I want to feed her macaroni and cheese, to give her my shoes and
my good jacket. I want to knit her a hat and make the baby a blanket.
I want to tell her that wherever she is going, she will find shelter
and that the baby will live.

It's easy to have these good intentions towards a photograph.
Nothing is required but sympathy, that delicate ache that rises and falls
like an ocean swell....and that can be just as fleeting. It would be
easy to turn away from the picture and forget both of them by the time
I finish putting away towels. Chalk it up to a moment of rich American guilt
and move on. After all, the things I want to do are silly and impossible.
She's half a world away, buried under war and hunger and plague like
a survivor of earthquake under a collapsed house. It seems foolish-- even arrogant-- to think that I can do one thing to help her or the thousands upon thousands like her. It's like trying to stop the tsunami of human pain with
a bucket.

But I know Someone who can help her, who knows her name and the name of
the baby on her back, Someone who fathers the fatherless. When I pray for her,
He listens. And I have to believe that my kindness matters, even if she can't receive it herself. All of the tiny threads of love-- carrying my child, cooking for my daughter, teaching little ones about God, giving what I have so that others may go serve-- form a web that can blanket the world. I cannot love her but I can love those within my reach, and they may love those in their reach, and link by link the chain stretches even to Africa. Blessed are the feet that may take her the gospel, blessed are the hands that may give her a cup of cold water cold water in His name. May my feet and hands be blessings to those in front of me.


The Rambling Housewife said...

You made me cry again...You should write more often. These poems are really good.

The Rambling Housewife said...

Of course, I suppose it could just be that I'm super emotional (children, especially teething ones, can do that to you!). :-) But I've really enjoyed reading through your blog. I hope you'll publish more, soon.