What inspires you? Who inspires you?
I love to sit in the office chairs of my friends, to see what they have around them, within eyeshot. For instance, I loved that my friend the Rev. Gretchen Seidler Gibbs had photos I had taken of her with her kids, and then a photo of my daughter, all within a hand’s reach.
I have an image of Mary holding baby Jesus, Mater Purissima, painted by Dominico Morelli, that I got as a postcard years ago. Mary looks vibrant and powerful, baby Jesus looks inquisitive and ready to lunge out of her strong arms.
Cartoonist Ashleigh Brilliant said, “All I want is a warm bed and a kind word and unlimited power.”
In April of 2010, a group of us volunteered in Chinese orphanages for a week and met with the Beijing Orphan Resource Network, along with leaders of non-governmental organizations. Some of us are adoptive parents, some there to learn more about the needs of orphans.
When I return home, a friend from Chicago says to me, as I get a bit weepy on the phone, “What? You think we don’t have motherless children on the South Side of Chicago? Think again!”
We spend one day with Cheryl and Kevin from Ohio who operate a group home for children with Osteogenesis Imperfecta known as Brittle Bone disease. The first sound we hear when we approach the house is the sound of laughter. They also started “The Bread of Life Bakery” for special need orphans who, at age 14, have aged out of the system. We then visit Harmony Outreach group home. As we enter the group home, go upstairs to see a room full of babies, and I spy a darling baby girl in a walker. I exclaim to a volunteer who speaks English, “Oh! Look at this Princess!”She replies, “This princess is not long for the world, she has a terminal heart condition.”
My roommate for the trip was a high school senior back when Run DMC was on the radio, when Big Hair was in, circa 1986, when I was her youth director. She and I have late night conversations about what we are seeing. How can a loving God deal the cards like this: some of us are born healthy, into loving families, and some of us are born unhealthy, then orphaned? Little Orphan Annie sang: “It’s a hard knock life for us! It’s a hard knock life for us!” For so many orphaned kids, it feels like a very hard life.
Author Stephen Vincent Benet said, “We thought, because we had power, we had wisdom.” Orphaned children worldwide are powerless. What can we do to help?
In the Bible, Daniel says,
‘Blessed be the name of God from age to age,for wisdom and power are God’s. God changes times and seasons,deposes kings and sets up kings;God gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. God reveals deep and hidden things….” (Daniel 2:20-22) Wisdom and power are God’s. Or as Paul said, in his letter to the Ephesians, (1:19)“what is the immeasurable greatness of God’s power for us who believe, according to the working of God’s great power….” Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral that is right and that is good.”
It has been nearly two years since our return home, and I still see the faces in my mind of those we held and fed and diapered. I think of Psalm 139’s verses which say,
“Your eyes beheld my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them….”
I remember the kids and those who care for them in my prayers. I have stayed in touch with those we met on our trip, those in China, those who traveled there. I think of the face of one child in particular; she stays with me. I keep her photo on my computer screen. What I do from here, the sermons I preach, the essays I write, the places I go, I carry her with me. As Sara Groves sings, “Your pain has changed me, Your dream inspires, Your face a memory, Your hope a fire….” Her face proves a litmus test for me, holds me accountable. Regarding the children who were brought to him, Jesus says, “… for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14) May we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear lessons power and powerlessness have to teach us.
Agape Life House www.agapeflh.org and Bread of Life Bakery http://www.breadoflifebakery.org/
Harmony Outreach http://www.harmonyoutreach.org/
Sara Groves song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lt_WpluguwE&ob=av2e
Worldwide Orphans Foundation http://www.wwo.org/