The journey of carrying small children through long lines….

It’s Monday, and I’m sitting at my desk again after a delightful vacation with my sweet family to Disney World last week. I began my morning-back-at-work-at-church by scribbling a list of to-do items and catch-up items, and I’ve already struck through several points on my list. I’m one of those over-achievers.

To feel inspired and carry that Disney magic with me into this new week, I’m wearing my green shirt with the sparkly golden design of Princess Merida and her mum in bear-form from the movie Brave. This shirt carries wonderful memories made last week–of huge smiles and wide, amazed eyes, of joyful laughter and spontaneous squeals and twirling from our children. But I also remember feeling very, very hot and sweaty under the Florida sun in this shirt. I remember desperately seeking shade at mid-day in the theme parks. I remember craving just a sip of water or one of those frosty, fruity drinks. I remember–at various points–carrying one of our children, with pink cheeks and damp curls stuck to their forehead. I remember long lines and swarming crowds. I remember the frenzy of hurrying from place to place. Frustration jumbled in with elation. It was an amazing week, but vacation was hard!

Toward the end of our time at Disney, we also heard the news of what’s happening in Ukraine. And I saw haunting pictures of crowds, of lines, of terror and destruction, of desperate and frightened parents carrying small children. The images pierce my heart. I feel along with those families. I know what it’s like to struggle to get one’s children safely from place to place, to make sure everyone is okay, to keep it all together. But, then again…I really don’t know anything, do I? I’m not over there.

I preach this Sunday, and the Scripture passage given to me for a pre-planned theme is from Luke 2:25-35. Mary and Joseph are presenting their young child Jesus at the temple, and prophetic words ring out from a man named Simeon: “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed . . . and a sword will pierce your own soul too” (2:34-35). Falling, rising, opposition, pain. A sword that pierces one’s soul. Mary knew that feeling all too well, as she experienced the journey of motherhood to her very special son. I feel it as I watch my own little ones. The parents of the Ukraine surely are feeling this to the depths of their souls right now. I am limited in perspective. I am privileged in my relative place of safety and peace. But my heart and soul are with them and all families this week.