Saturday, October 8, 2011



Yesterday morning, I did what I always do. I woke up, grabbed a cup of black coffee, and checked my Facebook. I don't stay on long. I look for new artists, see what my favorite artists have said in reply to smart-aleck remarks I've made (I really only like to buy from my "friend" artists who have a good sense of humor,) and check to see if my daughters need help, or if there are special requests from someone in my community.

But when I opened my page yesterday, the first picture I saw was from a posting in France: a newborn tossed in a garbage bin, chewed all over by ants, and in an incubator on oxygen, fighting for his/her life. And I thought, "Some days it is hard to choose life."

I was immediately taken back to a very disturbing, heartbreaking conversation with a beloved little friend of mine who is nine years old now. We've become friends over a period of four years. I won't tell you his name; I will tell you that he has painted at my house. And that he has some serious anger issues, and just cause for those. If no other kids are around (so that he doesn't lose face), he walks down toward my house nonchalantly, to see if I am hanging around out front. I always say, "Hey, dude!" first. And then he immediately comes up and sits in a chair on my porch.

I say, "You want a root beer?" He always says, "Yes." If my dogs aren't in the house, I tell him he knows where they are and to go help himself. He loves that. (He has learned that Diet A&W root beer tastes pretty good:) He comes back, and we talk about nothing really. But that "nothing" feels pretty important, because he keeps showing up.

This year, now that Brady (my grandson is in first grade) he rides the bus home, and I walk over to the next street to meet him. There are some kids who just want a hug. So I oblige gladly. (Even though they are so sweaty and steaming hot!)

This nine-year-old, much too cool for a hug, has been kind of waiting in line for his. And although he hesitates, I know he wants one. So I kind of tease him, and throw an arm around him...ask him how his day has been. He totally leans in, grabs on for dear life, and I wrap my arms around him, and give him a honest-to God real hug. 

A couple of days ago, this happened, and he didn't let go. So I walked with my arm around his shoulder, and he with his little arm around my big waist (a miracle! LOL!) And he started talking about animal abuse, and how horrible it was. And I agreed. But I said that hurting people was so much worse. He disagreed. He said people could take care of themselves. 

I talked a little about this. He still didn't get it. He believed animals had way more value than people. We were in front of my house when he said this. I grabbed him by the shoulders, and spun him around. I looked him square in the eyes. I said his name. 

"If there was a dog that was going to be hurt, or you were going to be hurt, who do you think I would save?" "The dog!" he replied emphatically. I was broken to the core, and I knew he had to understand. I asked him why he said that. "Because dogs are cuter."

"You would save a pretty person before you would save an ugly person," he then said. I immediately replied, "Some people are ugly on the outside, but beautiful on the inside; some people are beautiful on the outside, and ugly on the inside. But both people have a soul. I would try as hard as I could to rescue both."

He could not understand at all. He said, "But some people pour gas on dogs and set them on fire." And I was truthful. "Some people set kids on fire, and do the same thing." And I asked him again, "Which should be saved...the child or the dog?" And he thought hard. "I guess the kid."

I said, "Right. You know how much I love my dogs? I love people more. You know that. Because I love you, right?" He said, "Yes you do!"

And then we talked football a little. He loves football; I only love "his" football. And then he went home to do homework. 

And my heart was broken. Why would dogs and a pretty person have more value than a human life or an ugly person?

I don't have any answers to this.

All I can understand is that love is a hard thing. It is hard to teach. It is hard to pass on. It may be impossible to give in a way that surpasses what is already hardwired in the brain.

And it can seem that what we do is absolutely hopeless when we have conversations like this.

But I come back to my favorite word in the world: HOPE. I do not get to control what happens in this world. I do not get to save anyone. I can have a broken heart for the thrown-away baby; I can have a broken heart for the child who thinks a dog has more value than he himself does. But the only thing I get to do is carry hope for that person, and to show them love on a continuous basis. I am not a savior. But I believe there is ONE who is able to protect them in a way that I can not. And that I am here on this earth with a purpose; a calling. And that, in spite of fear, I must be here. Perhaps I am the one who will love that child or that adult so they get the hope to see that they have intrinsic value simply because they are created with a beautiful soul. That they too have a purpose.

HOPE...pass it on.