I AM my brother’s keeper

I AM my brother’s keeper

Brother's Keeper

Today’s post is brought to you by the power of technology because, frankly, technology can be pretty amazing.

Specifically, a piece of mail or a package arrives at my post office box, and I receive a text message on my smartphone notifying me to come retrieve it. Yesterday, I received such a text, so after school, to the post office we went.

The lone irritant about this otherwise brilliant notification process is that the text messages arrive whether I have received five long-awaited packages or one piece of thankless junk mail – the system doesn’t discriminate – so some days it’s obviously fruitful to take the detour to the post office and others the trek beyond our regular route feels like a waste, culminating with yet another cable solicitation torn up and tossed in the recycle bin.

Yesterday’s sojourn, while not fruitful mail-wise, instigated one of those unexpected “teachable moments” with my children, so I don’t count it all as loss.

Here, I pause for a brief parenting prayer: Lord, some day, I hope that I will be able to gracefully and gently segue into these moments with my children and not bulldoze into them with combat boots and a megaphone. But anyway. Baby steps. Amen.

After my solitary shredded solicitation was dispensed into the proper receptacle, we drove through the small parking lot. I glanced to my right and saw a young man and a young woman standing near the sidewalk, with a small child (probably toddler age) in a stroller.

Normally I wouldn’t have given a second look, but the young man appeared to be shouting at the young woman, who had her head down. He took one small step closer to her – he was still several paces removed – and angrily shook his finger at her several times before turning and facing the other direction.

From the back seat, I heard a child’s voice admonishing me: “Hey, Mommy – don’t stare.” I responded, “I’m not staring – I’m assessing the situation.” As the young man appeared to be calm and we eventually turned right onto the street,  I glanced at my children riding securely behind me.

“What if that man was so upset that he hurt the woman?” I queried. The response that came from the back seat sent a chill through my bones:

“It’s none of our business.” 

Insert all the wise, loving, Christ-like comments here:

If you were that woman, wouldn’t you want someone to care about and try to protect you if you needed to be protected? It’s called The Golden Rule, you know.

Let’s talk about the Parable of the Good Samaritan, shall we?

Remember Mother Teresa’s Gospel on Five Fingers -“You Did It To Me”?

We are all part of the Body of Christ!

We are called to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the world.

Except … I didn’t exactly say those things.

Other than a variation on the first point about the Golden Rule, no saintly story or parable of Christ came to my mind in the heat of the moment.

Side bar: I can think and speak so very well on my feet sometimes … why can’t I be as eloquent and effective when it pertains to teaching my children? Ugh. I need to get over myself. 

Frankly, my child’s response both stunned and saddened me.

I asked my children, “What if he punched her? Shouldn’t we call the police?” And a kid retorted, “So-and-so sibling name sometimes punches me, and we don’t call the police.” Riiiiiight. I replied, “Well, even though that’s not good or right, it’s not exactly the same thing.”

And then the questions flooded the car like a rising river –

Why? Why isn’t it the same?

What is the difference between protecting someone we know and protecting a stranger?

Why should some things be reported to the authorities while some things should not?

What difference does it make if something is done in public or in the privacy of our home?

Are we going home now? I need to pee.

Sigh. This momming stuff ain’t easy, yo.

Anyway, now that a day has passed, and more appropriate things to say have come to my mind, I will be revisiting the incident – expanding the teachable moment beyond the actual moment, if you will – so that my children can hopefully eventually understand and know and live out the fact that, yes – we ARE our brothers’ keepers. And EVERYONE is our brother.

Now, I’m not advocating that we all turn in to Nosy Nelly and Busy-body Betty – not at all. What I am saying, however, is that there are surely situations we encounter or conversations we overhear where we genuinely feel the quiet nudge of the Holy Spirit telling us to say something. Anything. And we ignore the nudge and we walk on by. “It’s none of my business,” we tell ourselves.

How many people get away with horrid things because someone is afraid to call him or her on it? 

Maybe it’s because the recent tragedy in Orlando weighs so heavily on my heart … I can’t help but ponder if someone heard something, saw something – anything – that portended the coming catastrophe and didn’t do or say anything about it because they thought it wasn’t any of their business.

All deserve to be treated with respect, dignity, love, and mercy. All. Each. Every. 

Had that young man struck the young woman, I would have dialed 911 in a heartbeat. And I would have rolled down my passenger’s side window and yelled at him to stop and asked the young woman if she needed help. And I would have driven her and that toddler somewhere safe if they needed it. Maybe we would have had two guests for dinner that night. I would never knowingly put my children in harm’s way, but there might have been something we could do.

Thanks be to God, no intervention on my part appeared to me necessary this time. But what about next time? Will I have the courage to be my brother’s keeper?

And, perhaps more importantly at this stage of my mothering game, when I am gone, will my five children rise up to help those in need? Am I raising compassionate kids who will bring the light of Christ’s love into the world? Will they be their brothers’ keepers?

Thanks in no small part to text notifications, crappy junk mail, and being where we needed to be when we needed to be there, we’re going to keep working at it.

God bless y’all,

heather

Photo credit: hans s via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

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Serenity Now!!

Serenity Now!!

I don’t have any formalized medical training, but I’m pretty sure my head is thisclose to exploding.

My husband and I are a mere 2 hours away from leaving for our once-a-year couple’s retreat. I should be rejoicing. Except … I am so sidetracked right now, it might take an act of God to get me to be able to concentrate during our weekend “away.”

Thanks be to God, my parents are on their way to watch our kids … but they’re running late. Very late. And we need to drop off a meal to a family that miscarried at 5 months before we can settle in at the retreat house. Thank you, God, for my parents. Thank you, God, that my children are healthy. Thank you for our friends, for the hope I heard in the Mom’s voice despite deep suffering, for providing peace that goes beyond all understanding.

As far as the retreat goes, we have to be a “commuter” couple this year, traveling the 25 minutes back and forth from our house to the center at night and in the morning, because our 20-month-old doesn’t sleep through the night consistently enough for my Mom’s taste yet. Oh, well – at least we get to go. Thank you, God, that the retreat house is not too far away. Thank you, God, for healing my Mom of cancer three years ago and giving her the energy to help us out this weekend.

The phone won’t stop ringing. The guest bathroom has yet to be cleaned. I haven’t showered yet. The “how to” instructions for our kids’ care is done, but the printer doesn’t want to work. Oh, and on my way out of the garage this morning, I took a big chunk out of our left-hand side-view mirror. I am hoping I got all the pieces off the front lawn and that super glue will cover a multitude of sins. Thank you, God, for the phone, for running water, for a computer, printer, garage, home, and car. Oh, and a big thanks for the inventor of super glue.

There are a few other big things on my mind, too: I just heard that a couple who’s going to be at the retreat this weekend just lost their adult daughter suddenly. Thank you, God, for the gift of life. Thank you for the gift of friendship. Thank you for your healing and saving power.

I have a big meeting with a client Monday morning after the retreat. Probably going to have to prep for that Sunday night after the retreat. I have a panel interview for a short-term full-time job the Monday afternoon after the retreat. Probably going to have to prep for that Sunday night after the retreat, too. So much for basking in the “mountaintop” experience of our retreat! Thank you, God, for the opportunity to earn money to support my family, however far from ideal our economic circumstances might be.

We got a letter from the IRS Wednesday telling us we own $35,000 in back taxes from 2008, which is hilarious, because I don’t think we even made $35,000 in 2008. Seems my former employer put a “comma” where there should have been a “decimal point,” and I made upwards of $80,000 instead of $8,000. Getting out of this mess will take a stack of paperwork and a lot of time that we don’t have right now. Thank you, God, for the gift of humor, perseverance, and patience. Help us, Lord, to get this cleared up soon so we can get our Federal tax return in the bank.

The financial aid paperwork deadline for school this Fall is looming overhead, and … and … and …

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus beckons:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the gift of your Word. I am starting to slow down … I am starting to listen …

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