Friday, February 26, 2010

Abandoned Children

This twenty-month-old girl was discovered abandoned, crying,  locked in a men’s restroom at a Shell service station in Newark, Delaware, on Feb. 21. Later, police found a possible link to a woman thought to be her mother, whose charred body was uncovered in the remains of a fire. This NY Daily News article tells the story.

In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, a young man went out to socialize recently, leaving his nine-month-old baby girl alone in a hotel room. Some hotel employees used a pass key to open the room  after she had been heard crying for hours. Apparently, she was alone there for thirteen hours. The story about this incident is in this Vancouver Sun article, dated Feb. 25.

The BBC Live News Channel features a story about a tiny baby girl, around two to four months old, who was abandoned in November, 2008, outside a hospital emergency room in Lincolnshire, England.

How can parents abandon their children, no matter what the circumstances are? Disclaimer: I am not talking about "tough love," which people sometimes must resort to in order to make their children aware of intolerable destructive behavior; what I refer to is parents leaving children for selfish reasons.  Imagine the unspeakable devastation of children of any age whose parents reject or go off and leave them. What can comfort such a child?

The only thing of lasting power to give solace and healing to a child’s heart broken through rejection or abandonment is the sheltering love of God.  The Bible says God is close to the brokenhearted, to children unloved and left alone. In Psalm 27: 10, David knows that “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” He will become both father and mother to children bereft of parents.

God’s love is the only perfect love. Parents are human and therefore flawed. Their love is imperfect, and they cannot hope to love unconditionally. But if they know love of any kind, they know something of God. God will heal the heart of anyone abandoned and left rejected and deeply hurt. And, too, he will forgive parents who cause such hurts.

I once met a pastor named Ruben in Mexico who made up a song he sang while he worked as a construction boss. These are the words (translated), a message to parents in a country with many abandoned children, especially near the border:  All who can hear my voice, if you have children, never leave them, never abandon them.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ash Wednesday, 2010

Ash Wednesday was a few days ago, Feb. 17.  In celebration of the beginning of Lent, I went to an evening service at my church.  Pastor John put a cross-shaped smudge of ashes on my forehead, saying “Dust you are, and to dust you will return.”  He said Lent is a time for reflection and repentance.

He said sometimes people give up something for Lent, but too often, they do it for the wrong reasons--to lose weight, for example.  The purpose for giving up something is to help us focus on Christ, what he means to us, our response to him. I don’t have trouble with that focus, so I don’t give up anything, or at least I never have until this year.

My daughter and I decided to forego desserts except for one day a week.  As I said, I have not done this before.  On Tuesday, the 16th, I celebrated the coming experience by eating the last big  chocolate chip cookie, grown slightly stale, but homemade, and a handful of semi-sweet chocolate bits. Someone pointed out to me that Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday,” is for that purpose, so people especially in New Orleans can go all out in whatever debauchery they love, and then give it all up for Lent. Somehow, that bit of information always eluded me. I knew they did it, as loud and long as possible, but I never realized its connection to Lent.  

The result of my sacrifice, so far, is that every time I see chocolate or have the opportunity, like today,  to turn down a hot fudge sundae, I think about Jesus and my commitment to him.  I believe my attention will be more riveted on him in the coming weeks because of it.  I will spend more time in prayer, meditation, and Bible reading.  

I grew up as a Baptist, and we didn’t do Ash Wednesday or Lent.  I have been a Methodist for over thirty years, but have been paying close attention for only sixteen years--I fell in love with God in March, 1994, just before Easter. (Here’s a link to that story.)  So I am still learning.

As I learn more about him, I see how wondrous his love is, how tender and precious. And I understand that this unfathomable love is the reason for the miracle of atonement through his son Jesus. I do not deserve it and never could, but I am forgiven and have a healed heart filled with sweet, quiet--sometimes loud--joy. And that is my strength.

Here are links to a couple of posts I wrote in previous years about Lent. I invite you to read them! 

The picture comes from this site:  

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Ducks or Geese in Formation

I had a forty-five minute drive home the other day. It was late afternoon, and I was tired, dreading the drive home.

Suddenly the sun broke through the clouds in an afterthought, so I looked up to see a little blue sky.  High overhead was a V-formation of ducks or geese, headed north. I watched them as long as I could. Two other formations came along, then. I slowed down so I could see them longer.

As the road turned, I could see a large group of them from the back, and I saw something new (to me!).  Occasionally, a bird near the front of the formation would move a little sideways. All the rest of the birds in that line followed that one exactly, and so the whole line rippled, like a wave in water. It happened in several waves.

I was amazed at the sight of how closely they followed, how precisely each one  imitated  the one just ahead. It was a beautiful thing--a ripple of birds.

The picture is from this site: