How do you both expose and shield your children from the pain and suffering around them? How do you answer their questions about the shaking, quaking earth and the loss of buildings and cities and parents and lives without instilling fears and terrors as they sleep in the night in a bedroom three stories up, a bedroom in a one hundred and twenty-five year old house resting on stacked stones and the New Madrid? How do you explain why we reach out to those that have lost – because we ache for them and also because we know that it could just as well be us – without creating the visual of a little girl in Haiti assembling a ziploc bag of vitamins and neosporin for a little girl in this river town next to the arch?
We chose to follow a list and purchase the items instead of writing a check that means little to a six year old. The list was complied by the organizations working within our church family and included personal hygiene and medical first aid items, bagged and ready to be handed out, one by one. The two of us worked our way through the aisles and through the questions. “If we are buying these things, who is buying the clothes? The shoes? The furniture? The toys? The houses? The schools?” One hundred and thirty dollars worth of ibuprofen and gauze; a full basket, yet so very, very empty.