I’m on board.
As a shy child I was a watcher, and still am.
I see the older sister trying to smile brightly, while everyone fussed over her little sibling, the one who stole her place in the family.
I see the hurt and withdrawal on the woman’s face after her partner cuts her off and puts her down.
I see the homeless man, sunken in on himself as he pushes his cart, all his earthly possessions.
I see the young teen waiting near the high school for a ride home. He doesn’t fit, no crowd to belong to. He plugs in and tunes out, his smartphone his only friend. Does he pretend to be texting, trying to make people around think someone wants to hear from him?
I see the woman who slips in the back, and leaves early, so she won’t have to feel the emptiness of friendship swirling around, leaving her out.
I see the teen girl – way more of her than I’d like – trying so hard to matter, not knowing she’s worth so much more than skin and sex.
I see the woman with the scarf tied round her head, holding tightly to this life as chemo gives her hope, but steals her strength, and more.
I see all of that on one, normal day in an affluent, safe town in Florida.
What I saw in Honduras, like most third world countries, was often very painful.
Gaunt women hauling firewood, balancing a bucket of water, two or three bare-footed little ones trailing behind.
A girl not yet a woman giving birth on an earthen floor, her walls found-cardboard, and her only companions huge roaches.
A man who can’t find his way home after drinking all night, slashing his friend with a machete.
A little boy burned over 75% of his body from a kerosene cook “stove” made from a large can.
A lame diabetic woman left to her own resources, until the stench of gangrene in her leg drives her neighbors to call for help, too late.
All around the world we can recognize pain, if we have the eyes to see.
But only if we are willing to feel, because we can’t really see if we aren’t willing to feel, too.
I know, we don’t really want to think about and see children tricked or kidnapped into sexual slavery.
Or masses of people abused because of the color, gender, or social status they were born into.
Thousands driven out of their homes, and many murdered, in the name of religion, their children growing up in refuge camps.
And what of the pain we can’t see with our eyes?
Only the heart sees the pain
of the death of a child or mate,
of child abuse covered and ignored for years,
the singular pain of being “other,”
Because I see, I can so easily feel overwhelmed.
After about four months in Honduras, I collapsed and cried, “I don’t want to see one more poor, miserable person!” My husband reminded me that taking care of the world is not my job. Not even Tela, Honduras. I can only change what God puts right in front of me to do.
So, with open eyes, I look, I see, I feel.
For many, just being SEEN is a gift.
Sometimes I can take action, but more often all I can do is care, and pray.
And we can all benefit from a prayer, can’t we?
To drive away the darkness, strike one match.
Take out your heart of compassion.
Light one candle, however you can.
Are you on board?