They sat, cross legged, faces turned upward, their hands held open in front of them. The baptismal font stood above them, sheltering their presence with its invitation to belong.
One eager boy, younger and smaller than the rest, ran to join in for the children’s sermon, then turned back to his mother. Then, just as suddenly, he turned and scooted into place beside a much taller boy. Occasionally, he waved to his mother, seeking reassurance while spreading his smile for all to see. Several times he whispered to the boy next to him who, with a finger to his lips, begged him to be quiet.
The minister, to emphasize the meaning of acceptance and belonging, invited them to dip their hands in the water. Swishing the water around, splashing a bit on each other and themselves, they joined together in play and in ceremony of their own awakening faith.
All except one.
Try as he might, standing on his tiptoes and jumping up and down, he simply was too short to reach the water.
It was then, as if the world in the form of the congregation, stood on the steps of eternity, waiting for a sacred moment.
And it happened.
An older member stepped from his pew, swooped the boy up in his arms and held him so that he too could dip his hands in the water and so that he too could belong.
It was indeed, a sacred moment.
Far apart from this moment, and yet so very close, the world explodes in violence, fear, anger and hate. Political discourse in America’s election year is filled with condemnation, half-truths and spite. In the midst of it all, young children, reaching their hands eagerly to belong, are ignored, or even worse, used as tools to tout a candidates embrace of “family values!”
The real needs of children, should be apparent to all. They should not be murdered, or allowed to unknowingly kill by the ease of access to guns. They should not be hungry. They should not be deprived of day care, school lunch, a clean bed in which to sleep, a safe place to run and jump and play and always they should never be without some one to lift them up and dangle their hands in the waters of a caring world.
In this country, there are abundant resources to make all those things happen. What is lacking in the political dialogue is the will to do so. Until there comes a time when children are valued enough so that they are picked up and carried in our arms of power and concern, we will have to continue searching for the sacred moments that invite everyone to belong.