“They were children. They had no place to go. They needed love.”

My friend, Mei Mei, shared some powerful thoughts on Facebook. She gave me permission to share her post:

“My parents spent their younger adulthood, and my childhood, taking care of children.

“These children were not technically ‘theirs’.

“These children were broken.

“These children had no home, and in a lot of cases, no one else loving them.

“These children had all survived significant trauma.

“These children were all colors. Some were rich, but most were poor. Born into circumstances beyond their control, forced into a life they did not ask for.

“These children were babies. And young preschoolers. Tweens. Teens. Even some young adults.

“These children were black, white, brown, and often a combination of all.

“Almost all of them had special needs. Most had complex medical needs.

“They were children. They had no place to go. They needed love. They needed hugs. They needed food, and clothes, and medicine, and a bed, and toys to call their own.

“They needed some adults they could trust, most of all. People who would love them instantly, even when they came in at 2am with not even a jacket in the dead of winter, sobbing. ESPECIALLY then, they were loved. Instantly.

“Because they are children, and children who have seen our worst deserve our best, even more so than others.

“My parents opened their hearts and made these kids theirs. Sometimes it was the churches who placed them in our home. Sometimes the state. A few times their own parents dropped them off. It didn’t matter where they came from. Sometimes they stayed just days, sometimes, weeks, sometimes years, and one is ours for life. But really, they are all ours and they know our love is still there and we will still be there in an instant, whenever and wherever they need us.

“What mattered is as soon as they crossed that door, they were ours. Ours to love. Ours to care for. Ours to show what a real home and a real family and a real love feels like, looks like. We loved them and still love them. Even in the dead of night, when a now 32 year old calls and says “Nana? I need you.”

“Truth? We needed them more.

“We never asked them their legal status. I know at least a handful were undocumented but we didn’t care. We never asked them how they got here, how they crossed the border. We didn’t care. They were home.

“They enriched our lives, and taught us much. They made us better versions of ourselves.

“Our country now has children. They are ours now. They came into our country alone, or were so horrifically separated from their loved ones.

“It doesn’t matter how they got here. It matters they are here. Now, we have a choice. Us, these Americans. All of us. We have a choice.

“Do we lock these babies in cages? Do we strip them of their humanity, and in turn lose ours as well? Do we take away their hope? Their love?

“Or do we remember these are CHILDREN?

“It doesn’t matter right now where they are from, how they got here. It matters how we treat them, because as children, THEY MATTER.

“Our choice is here. Staring us in the face. It looks like a toddler in a cage.

“So now we make the right choice, when our government failed so horribly. We make the choice to stand up, and shout with all of our might:

”’THIS IS NOT OKAY AND WE WILL NOT STAND FOR IT’

“We call our government officials and we don’t shut up

“We protest and march until they cannot ignore us.

“We stand up and say ‘We will take them. Give us the babies. We can do this together’

“We scream, we shout, and we DO NOT QUIT, because these are children.

“And when it is all over, we beg these babies forgiveness for failing to do what Jesus would do, for ignoring the example set for us. For failing to be human, and for failing to treat them as little humans.

“And then we sit down, and we figure it out. We figure out policies that don’t include children being stripped from their parents or babies in cages.

“The entire time we write those policies, and demand good, humane, loving action, we look at these awful pictures and remind ourselves to never let our humanity fall this far again.

“They are children. We failed them. Now let us fix this.”
– “Mei Mei”

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Driving Back from Our Hike

Driving back from our hike –
son is sitting in the seat next to me
his head nods forward
and he is asleep.
And I have a flashback
from 22 years ago –
same son, but a toddler then,
strapped in his car seat
behind me. I glance in the rear
view mirror and see his baby
head nod forward in slumber.
Same peaceful expression.
Same comforting white sound
from the moving car.
Same feeling of love filling
our moving bubble.
And I feel Moz join us –
I feel her love with me,
with her grandson.
There is no separation in time
or space or death.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Deli Market Singer

“The soul is healed by being with children.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

I’m at a deli market buying a sandwich when this young mother comes in with two small children. The little boy – he’s maybe three years-old – looks up at me for awhile, kind of speculatively, and asks me if I can sing the “Papa Song.” I tell him I don’t know that one, but I’ll sing him another one if he wants. He nods and I start to sing “Zippity Dooh Dah” for him. He gets this big grin on his face. His mom is totally cracking up. As I’m leaving, the sandwich lady says to the little boy, “Looks like you picked the exactly right person to sing for you! She has a great voice and everything!”

Made my day.

“Child of Mine”

Last week my dear FB friend, Caroline Martin, asked me to collaborate with her on putting together a youtube video featuring her beautiful song, Child of Mine, and my photography, Neither one of us had ever made youtube movies from our music and photos before and I had no idea, really, how to go about this kind of thing – but I said “yes” – how hard could it be, right? – and trusted that, once again, Love would lead the way as we entered a new adventure.

Serendipitously, I’d learned just a few weeks ago from my friend, Amy Duncan, how to put captions to my photos on pixlr.com. So after listening to Caroline’s song, and writing down the words to it, I went to pixlr and started adding the lyrics to photos that I thought might work well with the song. Then yesterday – also serendipitously – one of my high school students mentioned that most computers now come with free movie-making thingies – so I checked out my computer, and sure enough, there was a movie-making program I could download.  I added Caroline’s song and my photos to the movie-making thingy – et voila! – we had our movie!

Note: In the collage at the end of the movie there are four pictures – photos of Caroline’s beautiful children – that were not taken by me. They are great shots, though, and I would not be surprised to find that the ever-talented Caroline Martin took them herself. 🙂

If you go to the youtube link below our collaborative effort should appear…

1

One Last Song

Without any words you sat down at the piano one last time before heading off on your new adventure. You knew I would come and hear – pulled by that irresistible sound of your fingers on the keys – and all in a flash I saw you again as a toddler – the back of your round little downy-haired head as you sat on my lap at the piano, your tiny fingers pushing down on the keys, then your face turning up to me, a grin of pure glee there… is there anything more powerful than love?

Every Day New

Think about it – for children every day is new, every day is full of something they haven’t seen or experienced before. And the way little children approach these new things is really inspiring, isn’t it? Children look at their world with wide-eyed wonder, eager to learn new things, fearless and unself-conscious with the newness of their lives – without making a conscious choice about it, they learn to walk and talk and run. And without conscious thought or choice they leave the ”old” behind in a very natural and unforced way – one day, without thinking about it, they put down their favorite toy for the last time, and move on to something new.

Drew and Xander on slide