Last Sunday, we had a movie night (yes, nuns watch movies) and saw a film loaned to us from friends. The movie is called “Lion” and is based on a true story of a five year old boy from a poor rural town in India, who is separated from his family and ends up thousands of kilometers away in a part of India where he does not speak the language and has to fend for himself on the streets. He ends up in an orphanage and is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, through his scant childhood memories and perseverance using Google Earth on the internet, he finally locates his birth mother and home. It is an amazing story.
Although the ending is a good one, the journey is not. My heart broke as I watched children huddled together for warmth, sleeping on pieces of cardboard, being kidnapped for exploitation as workers in sweat shops or raped and tortured for someone’s sick gratification. I have not forgotten what I saw and I still weep.
Innocent lost. Innocence lost.
Later that evening, some of us also watched the PBS series, “Call the Midwife.” It too is based on a true story, of nuns and nurse midwives serving hard working families near the docks of London in the 1950-1960’s. It is a series that celebrates faith, family life, community and compassionate service to all in need. Having witnessed labors and deliveries during maternity clinical study, I marveled at the realism of the birthing process portrayed on the screen.
When the films were over, and everyone had left the room, I stayed alone in the silence to reflect upon what I had experienced that evening. It was no coincidence that I saw “Lion” and “Call the Midwife” in the same evening.
Every baby born is a miracle. A woman risks her life in labor because of a strong desire to bring forth life and to love it. The child born into poverty is no less of a miracle than one born into wealth and privilege. Yet, there are hospitals who have separated birthing wards for the poor from the privileged who can pay, with different rooms and different, sometimes less compassionate, care.
Then there are the children. Millions in India alone and millions more throughout the world, including the United States, are lost, and abandoned. They are being scooped up like trash in the streets and sold as commodities to be used and abused for money. How can this be? and how can we turn this around?
Politicians, look at the miracles in your own home and recognize that your children are no more miraculous than the children begging on the streets or scavenging on garbage heaps for a little something to eat. Then use your influence to help those who have been forgotten.
National leaders, ask yourselves: “Am I shutting the door on humanitarian aid to the starving and if so, why?” There is no good reason if this is happening in your country.
State and local leaders, are we building up our struggling families, and are we providing safe learning environments at school and after school that encourage all children to grow into their very best selves?
Why do we spend billions, even trillions of dollars in exploring outer space while the people of/and our own Mother Earth suffer?
When will we as world citizens say “I have enough; it is time to share with those who have little or nothing.”
Christians, are we dying to our privilege and rising as true disciples of Christ, becoming the least of all servants so that Christ can be recognized in our world?
We cannot continue to objectify the miraculous. Children are God’s gift to us. It is time, it is past time, to live once more as human beings made in the image of a compassionate God who loves and cares for all of creation.
Sr. Sharon of Jesus, osc