I have a long to-do list to the left of my left hand. I keep glancing at it, trying to muster the desire to address its dictation. But I can’t.
The Syrian refugee crisis weighs on me. I can’t look away. Clicking links, reading more. Wondering what in the world I am doing with the overwhelming amount of freedom and luxury that I live in. Everyday. Just simply, absurdly blessed while children wash ashore, dead out of desperation. Dead because the world isn’t responding.
The truth is I’m glad I can’t move on. I’m glad recent images and hearts spilled into blog posts have caused me to linger. To linger on the horror, to long for action. Perhaps if I let myself sit in the horror, wallow and wade through the grief, flex my empathetic muscles, perhaps a spirit of courage and determination will bloom.
Let the tears fall. Let my hand shake as I stare at Aylan and glance at my boys across the room. Let myself take a shaky, uncertain breath with the room feeling blurry from the smallest amount of pain I can image as I think upon what others live, as I think about what others have not been able to leave to their imaginations.
I watch the news, unable to look away as my son asks why people don’t want those people there. Some people are not welcoming the Syrian refugees with open arms. Herded like animals, jeered at like objects. I put my hand over my mouth. What can I say? Selfishness, fear. Inhospitality. Greed. Lack of empathy. Political stupidity. Apathy. I don’t know. I don’t know why we are not cheering at the arrival of Syrian refugees, saying, “Take that ISIS. We will love the people you hate.” I don’t know why we don’t have guests downstairs, guests who are fleeing the horrors of ISIS. We have an extra bed. They can stay here.
I don’t even want to tell my sons about what’s going on in Syria. The words, the truth, seem too much, too violent.
Other mothers aren’t telling their sons. They are trying to keep them alive. They aren’t protecting innocence. They are trying to stay alive. Day-in and day-out, they are just trying to stay alive!
Let us hit our knees. Everyday.
So many times, we feel pain, conviction, empathy. We want to help. We feel a brief, fleeting surge of emotion that tells us these things are reprehensible. We can’t tolerate this. “Governments speak up,” we yell. We click some links, like some posts.
Then we make dinner. And debate going to get ice cream. We wish we could buy a new pair of shoes. We already have plenty.
These things aren’t wrong, per se. But when the emotions die down, the conviction remains. If you are a Christian, welcoming the the stranger, practicing radical hospitality is one of the most consistent callings throughout the entire Bible. There should be no doubt what Jesus would do.
There should be no doubt what we should do.
But how? What? I hear you. I echo. What can we do?!
Some ideas to get you started:
- Visit We Welcome Refugees, a newly launched initiative that will hopefully help the North America church connect with those addressing the crisis. Let’s move off the sidelines.
- Commit to pray everyday. Our God saves.
- Petition to the government to open our borders and allow more Syrian refugees to enter.
- Donate to those on the ground, doing the work:
- Send needed items to refugees trapped on a Greek Island: