Saving Seven Lives

I’m drowning in thoughts of murder.  No, not  me.  I don’t want to murder anyone – today.  But it seems that plenty of people do.  Which makes me wonder, like the Black Eyed Peas do in their song, ‘Where Is the Love?’

I’ve been reading the Hunger Games trilogy in which murder is a main theme.  Then there’s the daily disturbing news coverage of murders like the one of the man who killed seven people.  Couple this with the re-telling of the Passion of Christ this Easter season in which the crowd shouts, “Crucify Him!” and you understand how I got to this unsettled place.  Still, I surprised even myself when I burst into tears at Mass.  My children, unaccustomed to Mom crying, giggled nervously and whispered to each other loudly enough to draw attention to my spontaneous unraveling.

An explanation was expected on the ride home.  But how to articulate my despair?  Is it wise to expose my children to my darkest thoughts?  Mother is supposed to be a beacon of hope and strength and comfort.  Yet, she is human and desires that her children witness that truth. 

So she begins, delicately, trusting that her children will rise to the challenge before them.  She tells them that she feels weak sometimes and powerless against the evil in the world.  And when she stands before God in His house and spills her heart out to Him, she feels like a child who needs to cry about what she can’t do and can’t have – like world peace and safety for everyone.  Mother chokes up again when she proclaims how unfair it is that a person can decide to kill seven people and just do it.  But another person, like Mother, can’t decide to save seven people .  It’s easier, it seems, to kill people – literally and figuratively – than it is to save them.

The children, desperate to patch up Mother’s wound as she has done so many times for them, offer their wisdom.  The son, usually silent, speaks first.  With his story, the son pulls the mother’s pain out of her in the same way that Androcles plucked a festering splinter from the lion.  Here is what he said:

“Once there was a boy who was walking home from school.  Some bullies gave him a hard time and all his books spilled out of his backpack.  Another boy saw this and came to his aid, picking up books and helping the boy up.  The Samaritan asked, ‘Why are you carrying so many books?’  The boy answered, ‘I cleaned out my locker because I had intended to kill myself today.  I’m sick of being bullied.  I thought no one cared about me.  But you helped me.  And now I know I was wrong.  Thank you.'”

By the end of her son’s story, Mother is crying again, but for a different reason.  She is humbled by her son’s wisdom and compassion.  She feels hope and joy in his story.  Fearing that Mother may have missed the point, the son explains, “You never know the effect that kindness has on people.  You’ve probably saved a lot of lives, Mom.”


There are moments in life when my heart fills so unexpectedly and so completely that I wonder how it remains contained in my chest.  The heart that only moments before was shriveling in despair, is renewed by an extended hand of compassion.  In an instant, I am transformed like the Grinch on Christmas morning: 

And what happened then?  Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.  And then the true meaning of Christmas came through and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches plus two!

A little love from little beings brings big love to big beings.  Beautiful.


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