This post will not be well written. I’m really not writing that way this morning. I am struck. Yesterday the body of a small refugee boy washed up on the shores of Turkey. A family simply looking for a safe place to rest their heads. Which lead to the drowning of a mother and two little boys. The father was the only one to survive. The picture of this child has been circulated while more and more is coming out about this family. Where they came from, where they were going, and the places that sent them away. This image is obviously shocking. I have two nieces that were these boys’ age. I have a nephew who’s five, (the age of the brother who also drown.) He just started kindergarten. This child was one of them.
I look at this child’s body. I see the clothes his mother or father dressed him in. I wonder what his favorite song was. I wonder if his mother sang to him before he went to sleep. Did he have a favorite story he liked to hear? Did he have a favorite stuffed animal he kept close? What did he want to do when he was grown? What kind of games did he like to play with his friends?
I am struck to my core by the image of this child and his family’s story. A family like yours and mine fleeing violence, looking for a place to rest their heads. Why did this happen? That is a loaded question. One I don’t feel like even starting to answer. Right now I just want to mourn. I want to weep. I want sing. I want to write. I want to hold my nieces and nephew close. I want the people who start fires over Planned Parenthood videos to start a fire over this. These are real children living with real consequences of western foreign policy and immigration laws. Why are we treating refugees with such distain and contempt? Where are the voices for the voiceless?
Jesus of Nazareth said, “when you refuse to help the least of these, you refuse to help me.” Where was god the day this little boy drown? He was this little boy. Take a moment and let that sink in. Of all the things we can do today, offering mercy and grace to those living in constant violence and seeking refuge might be the greatest. YHWH is near the broken and the oppressed. So don’t avert your eyes when you see this picture or this story. Look, and let it pierce you. That is where your god is. He is in the slums, he is in the migrant boats, he is child lying in bed at night listening to the sound of bombs, he is the mother and father moving their family to safer places, he is Aylan Kurdi the child who washed ashore in Turkey. Whatever we do or don’t do for these, we do and don’t do for Jesus.