When a Little Boys Body Washes Ashore
*** I thought long and hard about whether to include the photos in this post of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler, whose precious body washed ashore while trying to flee, with his family, to a land that was safe. These photos have gone viral after this unthinkable tragedy. I didn’t know if I should post them because they are graphic and horrible. I didn’t want to post them because I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. I decided to post them because we need to begin to feel uncomfortable… I need to begin to feel uncomfortable. Our fellow human beings are dying trying to attain something as simple as safety. A safety that so many of us, myself included, take for granted every single day. You can read more about the perilous trek here.
I woke up at 2:46am with a start. I don’t know what woke me up but I know that every time I closed my eyes I saw a little boy’s lifeless body on the beach. The first time I saw the image I wanted to reach into my computer and grab his little body and wrap him in a blanket and hold him. I wanted this little boy’s lifeless body to know that he did not die in vain. I desperately tried to process why people were taking photos of this little body rather than running to him and grabbing him and holding him and keeping the water away. Laying in bed in the middle of the night, a world away from this tragedy, I began to pray that God would help me fall back to sleep… To my own embarrassment, instead of feeling uncomfortable I wanted to feel sleep. I am human- and I am also selfish like that. With each self-absorbed word I offered to heaven my heart ached more and more with a sense of urgency I couldn’t quell. It was then that I sat up in bed, grabbed my phone and began to write.
When a little boys body washes ashore, I begin to ask questions. I begin to look at my “busy” life so full of me and my and I. I start to feel uncomfortable being so wrapped up in my seemingly important world of deadlines and work stress and to-do lists.
When a little boys body washes ashore, I feel angry at myself that while I was worried about who I was going to draft second and third in my Fantasy Football drafts there were people, other human beings, worried about how, if and when they were going to make it to freedom.
When a little boys body washes ashore, I feel sad that I never even noticed what was going on seemingly a world away because it didn’t directly impact my day-to-day life.
When a little boys body washes ashore, I begin to wonder about U.S. and foreign policy that I, embarrassingly, know far too little about- yet arrogantly have a solid opinion of.
When a little boys body washes ashore, I think of the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. The same statue that my family and Hubbz’s family saw when they immigrated to this incredible country that I, most days, take for granted in calling my home. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” These words send chills down my spine because there are parts of me that feel like I have failed the very words that gave my own flesh and blood family hope for a future.
When a little boys body washes ashore, I can’t help but think of the Inn keeper whose heart was cold enough to say “Sorry, there’s no room for you at the Inn.” I wonder about the temperature of America’s heart. I wonder about the temperature of my own heart. Has it gotten chilly and immune to the state of our world? Have we become so focused on not exceeding the maximum capacity that we have lost the capacity to love and care for other humans?
I don’t know the answers to these questions that pull at my heart. I don’t know the policies and procedures that need to be in place to help our fellow humans in ways that are beneficial and promote the quality of life. I don’t know where to even begin to help. But … I do know this tragedy has my attention.
Sweet, precious Aylan. Your life has touched millions. The precious lives of you, your brother, Galip and your Mama, Rehen were not lost in vain. That I promise you, sweet baby boy. People are waking up to this tragedy- your tragedy- and people are taking notice. Sweet Aylan, we are wiping the sleep from our tired eyes and beginning to see clearly the work that is before us.
Luke 10:2 offers us Jesus’ wisdom- His instructions: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
It is time to wake up from our busy lives.
It is time to help cultivate awareness.
It is time to shed light in the darkness.
It is time to bring our love and light to the world.
People need people.
People desperately need people.