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Friday, January 15, 2010

Don't hold your breath

Be careful what you teach your children. When we parents offer our children up to the world, to serve, to give, to go, to heal and teach and dig wells and make justice, we'd damn well be clear about what we are doing. We are giving them up. A "brilliant light" and vibrant life has been taken away from this life. He died along with the poorest of the poor, the desparate, precious people of Haiti. A young man whose mother and father taught him to love and risk and sacrifice has paid the ultimate price for his commitment. Ben Larson is lost within the rubble of a building in PAP where he had gone to teach. His life is lost to us, to his wife, to his friends and family, including his siblings and his parents, April Ulring Larson and Judd Larson. I know his mother. And I confess, it's April for whom my heart is breaking most of all. She is a great mom. She brought up her kids to love God, to give and give and give. And so they did. Be careful what you do, moms. Be careful what you do, dads. You give your children to the world and it doesn't always spare them. My daughter spent several weeks in L'Aquila, Italy a few years before the earthquake there. She was there to serve. When the earthquake struck, she was in an unreachable village in rural South Africa. She was there to learn, to serve. It was an unnerving reminder that we send our kids out into the world, honoring their commitments to justice and healing, and we are not in control. Of course, of course, we're not in control anyway, anywhere. And who expects an earthquake in Haiti, of all places? A big one? I'm probably too rattled and too overcome with sadness tonight to make this make sense. But really, I think, the point is this. We share our children, we share one another with the whole world. They do not belong to us. We nurture and guide them along, we encourage and succor them. And, if we're like the parents who are grieving tonight in Duluth, we enourage these risky behaviors, for the sake of the world. It's a good thing. Yes, it is. It is a good thing. To share our lives, our children, our gifts with the world. It can be dangerous. It can be deadly. But it is right. I never knew how much my mom worried about my bouncing off to the Soviet Union all the time when I was a young adult, until the last year of her life when she gave me her journal to read. She was a nervous wreck. But she never told me not to go. I'm grateful for being given up, to the world, to serve a larger purpose, a larger community, a higher good. And I do the same with my own two girls. Send them off, send them out. To change the world, to take risks and perhaps live dangerously. For the sake of love. It's not something to be taken lightly. And now, as the scenes of wrecked and ruined buildings and broken bodies fill the screens, stories of devastation and loss, of grief and unspeakable horror, we are overcome with sadness for every human life that has been lost and torn apart. And I am especially holding April in my heart, another mother who told her kid, "Go!" and he did. Peace to her, to Judd, to the rest of their family, and to all who mourn. Life comes from death. Every time. One way or another. Every time. Life comes from death. And it will now, too. It will.