“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:16-17)
We prayed. I prayed for the protection of the innocent as I watched mine running and playing in the yard. There were times I wanted to shut down, to ignore the little duties and delights of the day. I sat in our house and felt guilty, not for all our meaningless stuff, but for the peace and joy we experience within these walls. This is the prize, not the American Dream, this is the gift for which we give thanks. This carefree summer day is what every child needs, and God does not begrudge us this. I sat on the green, green grass and prayed that one day those suffering would find joy. I prayed that evil would be halted in its tracks. I prayed that love would prove victorious. We keep praying that our hearts would remain open, that our hands will find fitting expressions of help.
We gave. After looking at a few different options, we gave a one time gift to an organization on the ground in Iraq providing relief to those persecuted and fleeing, no matter their religion. Was it thousands of dollars? No, not even close. But it was what we had this month. And then, we committed to monthly support for a local family we know who work in Lebanon, providing services to refugees from the Middle Eastern conflicts. Again, it is not a large amount. I wish it could be more. Maybe one day it will be. But it is our commitment not to forget after the fuss dies down.
We ate beans and bread. Pizza Friday is a bit of a tradition in our house. We make pizza and celebrate the onset of the weekend. But this Friday I couldn't. Couldn't celebrate, couldn't pile on the extra cheese. So in our own way, we fasted. I set the table, lit a candle, put a picture of the family we wanted to support next to it. Then I opened a tin of beans. Cut a few slices of bread. Sat down and explained to the kids why we weren’t having pizza tonight. We talked, on a four year old level, about people who were sad and needed to be safe, and that we were going to try and help. “Maybe those people could come to our island and live in safe houses here,” my daughter suggested. Oh, the simplicity of childlike faith.
On Sunday in our church one of these children of faith showed a picture he had painted. Two people walking toward a big red sunset. He is painting pictures to raise money for his grandmother in Kenya, who feeds dozens of hungry children in her own home, daily. He sells the paintings here in the community and sends the money to her. His idea. He’s just a kid.
“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18)
Perilous times call for particular acts of love. Change happens hand to hand, bean by bean. We can choose to love. We can choose to walk away from darkness, toward the sun.