Today I am weary.
Today, all I can think of is all the little children.
The ones I see week after week whose greatest achievement each day, and sometimes only achievement, is to simply get to school. Little children who got themselves up out of bed, packed their own lunch, found their own clothes to wear and possibly left the house without someone to even say goodbye to them.
No warm hugs, no kisses, no ‘love you!’ Whispered into a grateful ear. Just a parent in bed, sleeping in or sleeping off the night before or perhaps simply too weary of life itself to gather the wherewithal to get up and keep on keeping on.
Gazing round my garden in the warmth of an autumns evening with the weight of these children’s woes pressing heavy, my thoughts drift to seeds.
When a seed, buried in the darkness of the earth, is sprinkled and soaked in rain, something truly wonderful happens, a fantastically glorious change is set in motion.
A once inanimate object is now somehow, in an instant, transformed into a living, growing thing and, before too long, a seedling emerges – happy, bright and hopeful! Reaching with confident optimism and tremendous potential towards the light, surging forward relentlessly, making the utmost use of everything available to it – nutrients, sunlight, water.
It is a natural fact that some seeds are sown by chance in excellent soil and therefore thrive, while others are not so lucky.
Indeed, as I glance around my garden, it is very telling how, not immediately, but eventually, the more extreme weather – sudden drops in temperature, a spell of super dry heat – will gradually reveal hitherto unknown truths about the true situation of each seedling.
Poor soil, too much sun, and insufficient water will each make their presence glaringly obvious eventually as the young plant either goes from strength to strength -coping with the harsh conditions – or, alternatively, remaining small and stunted – unable to do more than just hang in there.
Incredibly vulnerable, though it may be, the little plant will go to great lengths just to survive, using all its resources to simply stay alive, until, eventually, inevitably, its resources run out. Utterly and ultimately dependant on their environment for survival, the seedling can’t hold on forever.
And yet, sometimes, if they’re lucky, assistance is at hand. Someone will notice the wilting young plant and supplies the water that is lacking. Someone might go to great lengths to carefully construct a shade structure to provide protection from the blistering sun. Someone might add the nutrients which the soil lacks. Someone might come to help.
What of the little children I know? Are they not like the seeds? Do they have any say in to whom they are born? Do they have any control over the harshness or richness of the environment that is provided for them to nurture and sustain them in their early years? What happens when the soil in which they find themselves, the environmental conditions of life around them indeed cannot truly sustain life?
With time, with patience, with care, sometimes a plant can be coaxed back to life and even thrive again. This has certainly been true in my garden. Sometimes a child with the patient loving care of an adult – a relative, a teacher perhaps – will indeed thrive.
And yet, sometimes, even with tender loving care, a struggling seedling does not thrive.
Seedlings can’t always be coaxed back to life. And some children, sadly, may never thrive.
These are the children whom I cannot forget. The ones whose fate seemed decided, perhaps before they were even born. Like the seeds sown in terrible soil they eventually and ultimately simply can’t make it.
This is a heavy weight upon my heart.
Thanks be to the One who upholds those who fall, and those who lose the fight.