Thursday, February 23, 2017
I once read the most startling essay written by a boy who must have been ten or eleven when he wrote it for a school assignment. He vividly described the anger in his home and how he and his sibling as the smallest and most vulnerable often became the landing place for all the frustrations and hopelessness his parents felt. After a particularly intense clash with his father, the boy was sent to his room. Throwing himself on his bed he cried to the point of exhaustion, slipping in and out of sleep.
He wrote of feeling groggy at one point and uncertain whether he was even awake. In the haze his father came to him. With a gentle touch, he reached out to his son apologizing for taking his own sense of powerless out on the boy who was surely even less powerful than he was himself. The boy felt a warmth flood his heart and drifted back to a more peaceful sleep than he had experienced in a long time.
The story ended with the boy shocked to his senses by the angry shouting of his father. Suddenly aware of his surroundings, he comprehended that he had indeed been dreaming and that nothing in his circumstances had actually changed while he dreamt.
Reading this story scrawled in the childish script of a young boy, I recall audibly moaning from the pain of the piece. Yet, he was not writing to elicit a reaction; he was writing of life as he knew it. I wish it were true that this boy’s experience was unique or that it couldn't happen to people in my part of the world. The truth is that the boy attended the same school that my children attended. He and children like him live in my town. They are someone I know, and someone any of us might know.
A child can be impacted by an adult who takes an interest, who is willing to read with him, to volunteer in his school or his activities. There is too much pain in this world for one person to impact it all, but there is pain in small pockets that we can each impact. Go out into your world. Touch another life. Genuinely helping others gives you a sense of usefulness. When you return home you will discover you are more content in the simplicity of your home than you ever realized. Home should be a beautiful place for us all.