In his 1891 painting, titled ,THE DOCTOR, Sir Samuel Luke Fildes depicts a physician, deep in thought and no doubt filled with worry, sitting by the bed of an obviously ill child. The bottle on the beside table probably contains only some medicinal hope just as the physician’s power to heal too was more of hope than of scientific knowledge. Still, there he sits, while the anxious family looks on, waiting.
As the year draws to an end and the season of holiday celebrations of all kinds erupt around us, we too are waiting. Equipped with science, technology of all sorts, the happenings of the world at our fingertips and with the power of incredible knowledge not even dreamed about in 1891, we too are sitting and waiting in hope.
We wait in hope that the pain and loneliness of a shelter, instead of a home, where children must look for but never touch the security and the comfort of someone who cares, will disappear into the carols, the crowds in the mall and the ringing of church bells
We wait, hoping that the collection of gifts for the poor and the Salvation Army’s kettle will be their hope as well.
We wait, with some vague idea that solutions for lifting children and families out of poverty and into life will come from the hope we have placed on those elected to serve us.
We wait in the hope that the institutions of faith, some of which even now are celebrating the birth of a child, will gather their strength and message around the bedsides of all humanity leading the parade of hope rather than treading the path of judgement and condemnation.
We wait, hoping that someone, some group, some humanitarian effort will bring light to the darkness of those who sit on the margins of life.
Deep inside, we too are an anxious family, standing by the bedside of the growing number of children in poverty who all too often are ill fed, marginally educated and chronically devoid of hope that ultimately erupts into anger and seethes with despair.
We long for the likes of Sir Samuel’s patient physician to produce a rare and miraculous cure for all the children whose lives are lived in the pain of neglect.
Until that happens however, we wait,
And we hope.