Along with everyone else in the world, we sisters have been keeping prayer vigil as rescue attempts were underway for the 12 Thai boys stuck in a flooded cave with their soccer coach. In fact, on our chapel door there’s a note where we’ve been keeping track of the progress. First there were four rescued successfully, then eight more made their way out with the help of Navy Seal divers. We prayed this morning for the remaining boys to be rescued. I checked the news as I sat down to prepare this newsletter and breathed a sigh of relief at the jubilant headlines: “They’re all out!”
The plight of these boys captured the heart and imagination of the world and has galvanized different countries to work together to find a way to rescue them.
There is something so beautiful, so human, so deeply sacred when we join hands together to save each other. Although it was a difficult, complex, and dramatic rescue, one that even took the life of one of the rescuers, the plight of these children was a straightforward issue: the children were in mortal danger from a natural disaster and needed adults to rescue them—quickly.
It might be easier for us to project our hearts’ noblest sentiments onto situations that are traumatic yet untangled with politics, confusion, and too many unknowns. When I think of the over 3000 children separated from their parents in the past weeks at the border between US and Mexico and who are now in government custody, I have terrible pictures in my mind: of children under five expected to defend themselves in hostile courtrooms; of children moved across the country so that parents have no idea where they are—and DNA must figure out who is related to whom; and of the hashtag #wherearethegirls asking why only boys appear in released photographs. There are so many issues, so much confusion, that my own heart is left feeling paralyzed.
These children, too, call out the noblest sentiments within a Christian heart. But they also bring up for each of us the stories, emotions, histories, beliefs, judgments, and biases that are part of every human life. It is easier to hold our breath with the world, rooting for the safety of the boys in Thailand, than it is to sort through issues the children of immigrants on our borders raise for us. Do they deserve any less from us?
So let us step aside, nobly, from all the adult issues regarding immigration, from our political beliefs, so that we can at least collectively hold our breath and pray and work for the safety of children as young as one year old, who right now are trapped, not in a cave but in a system, without the care of their parents—just like the Thai boys. Let us see them as helpless children, in their deepest sacred human dignity, and remember them in prayer until each one of them has been rescued and returned to the grateful arms of their parents.
by Sr. Kathryn Hermes, FSP