So as I get ready to go home and get back to life as I more generally know it, I am feeling a little overwhelmed. It is not in the least bit unusual I suppose. But my “fix-it” mind doesn’t cope well with knowing that I can’t actually fix it.
The scale of the problem is huge. I am small. I could devote my life to trying to alleviate poverty and I would barely scratch the surface. So sometimes its easy to get demotivated. Sometimes its just easier not to try. Sometimes its easier to just get on with life and let someone else do it. Besides, my life is pretty comfortable back home.
But who wants an easy life right? Highly overrated I’m sure. :)
On the way to the airport I stopped off at the Genocide Memorial Museum. Its hard to explain what its like to stand in a room full of skulls and bones and remember that they used to be mothers, fathers, sons, daughters. Its hard to read the names and see the pictures of 2 year olds, 9 month olds, 5 year olds…slaughtered. Its hard to understand how nearly 2 million people (and still counting) were killed in 3 months and the international community just stood back. It was a harrowing couple of hours and perhaps the perfect end to my trip – especially after yesterdays pathetic melt down. The reality of the history of this country has definitely added to my feeling overwhelmed. What to do now?
About 5 years ago I heard a series of talks before joining an army of young people attacking London with garden spades, litter pickers, youth clubs, dance groups, basket balls and loud stereos (amongst other things). London is big and we were small. So we needed reminding of something that is just as profound to me now as it was then: Jesus always focussed on the individual. Crowds followed him, many needed healing, multitudes wanted to hear from him, but sometimes he would withdraw from the crowd to seek out the one person he wanted to encounter. The Good Shepherd left an entire flock to go in search of one lost sheep.
The world is full of literally millions of people in need of help. In fact, I’d suggest about 6 billion. Every day I interact with many of them. So I guess what I’m called to do – and really the only thing I can do – is take one day at a time, and focus on the individuals around me. Wherever that may be.
There’s that old story about the starfish. I’ve heard it a million times but as cheesy as it is, it has a good point.
Thousands of starfish had washed up on the shore. They lined the beach. A little boy was walking along the beach and picking them up one by one and throwing them back into the sea in order to save them. An older man approached and said to the boy “what are you doing? There are thousands and thousands of them, you’ll never make a difference”. The little boy smiled, picked up a starfish, through it back in the sea and said, “I made a difference to that one”
Here are a few of the “ones” I have met in the last few weeks…