Here's what I did this afternoon. I sewed bags to make school kits for children in Darfur. One of my lovely ladies helped me shop and one of the fine young gents helped me fill the bags.
I was inspired by a column in yesterday's paper about a community challenge-- send 1000 school bags to children in the Darfur region of Sudan in Africa. What the heck, I have a sense of community and compassion for others, right? I had a little extra fabric, notebooks were on sale at Target for only ten cents each, and it might make an interesting project for the kids-- expand their awareness of the world and help them to be grateful for what they have.
As my daughter helped me shop for supplies she started asking questions. Along the lines of "Do I have to do this?" To her credit she asked some really good questions once she got a fuller picture. Loving heart, she wanted to choose sparkly shoelaces to tie the bags so that the children could have something special. Anyway, I started trying to give her a mental picture of what it must be like for the children living in refugee camps. Because she's very literal I started an "Imagine what it would be like if you...." story. Right there in the middle of Target I started imagining. Homes burned. Sickness. Heat and dirt and crowding. Mothers harmed and fathers killed. Fear and homesickness and despair. Imagine what it would be like if my daughter, the light of my heart..... I had to stop talking for a minute because suddenly the idea of my precious babies, well let's just say that I had to shut up so that I wouldn't turn into the weird lady sobbing in the school supplies aisle.
My fine young gent, so happy to help, asked lots of good questions too. "Mom, are the kids Christians?" (I don't know, mostly Muslim, I think.) "Mom, why did the bad guys burn their houses?" (I don't know, bunny. There's a war and people do bad things in wars.) "Mom, why do people do bad things in wars?" (Oh baby, I wish I knew. I wish I knew.) Now I am in tears again.
Two things occur to me as I write this. One, thanks to the internet I now know the answers to some of my kids' questions. I'll tell them as much as I know tomorrow. But I still don't know why people do such terrible things to one another. And two, my awareness of the world has stretched a little, and not comfortably. And, oh I am grateful for everything I have. So grateful.
I look at the completed bags, just two little fabric bags with some notebooks and pencils, and they seem so small. So insignificant. Then I remember our school motto: Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you. (St. Augustine) Usually I think of this as a reminder to care for the people I meet, for the children who bless my home, for people I actually see as I go about my life. Instead, today, we paid special attention to two children who by accident of circumstance are brought close to our hearts. Whose pleasure at being offered a small gift is something we'll have to imagine. Whose lives are unimaginable. All I have to offer is a little cloth bag, some school supplies and some tears. For today since I cannot do good to all, I can help do a tiny bit of good to a few and that will have to be enough.
Peace. Hug your little ones and your loved ones tight today.