My heart breaks. For the children. For the moms. For the dads. For the people of the world.
The statistics. You read them. First it's 1,000 dead. Then 2,000. Then we hear it's going to be 5,000. The numbers have reached over 8,000 dead from the Nepal earthquake. Then there are the aftershocks and more devastation.
We say each of these numbers, 1000, 2000, 5000, 8,000 like they are just that, a number.
But they are not.
They are more than 8,000 once-living breathing people, with real hopes and real dreams and real lives, real passions and personalities, gone from this earth. Moms and dads and teenagers and toddlers with families and loved ones.
Each day, I've been turning on the nightly national news to see what updates there are in Nepal. And, I have my children watch the news with me.
I want my kids to feel, to know about the pain and heartache in this world, to feel compassion, to care about the hurts of others.
Yet, sometimes it feels like "just statistics." How do you get our kids to put a name, a face, a real live person to a statistic.
How do I get myself to feel, to see beyond the number?
Today, I weep. And feel. And pray. And ask God to show me.
I think of the non-profit, These Numbers Have Faces, which reminds us that "figures and data are important tools to measuring complex social issues... but when we see those numbers as real people, we find a purpose that compels us to action."
With the Nepal earthquake, then the recent aftershocks, and the tornadoes in the Midwest that are causing so much devastation in the lives of so many people, we can get so overwhelmed.
What can we do? Where can we help? Is there a way to make a difference?
There are people traveling to Nepal to help victims of the earthquake; and people in the region are giving up hours and days and their own comfort to help these hurting individuals; and then of course there are others who are assisting those devastated by the Midwest storms.
And, when people cannot actually "go" to help in another country or region far from home, they assist by giving money and praying or funding others to go; yet it always feel like it's not enough. Or that more can be done. So you weep and pray and ask God to show you.
And sometimes there is pain right here in our own backyard, and that is also a place to start.
A place to start right now, right here.
My husband and I were in a very serious accident in January -- we were struck by car while walking and were thrown 20-30 feet. I was knocked unconscious for 30 plus minutes and lost half an ear and my husband fractured his pelvis. After spending two days in the hospital, so many local people reached out to our family in so many tangible, right here, right now ways -- delivering flowers, bringing meals, sending cards, visiting us with cheerful hearts; and those people who have reached out to us have made all the difference in our lives.
And, it's made me realize -- maybe reaffirmed it for me -- that I want to be more deliberate about reaching out in situations when someone needs help. Right here, right now, where we are.
A week ago, my daughter-in-law and I were driving home from a bridal shower, and just before we were about to turn onto our street, we saw flashing lights that looked like emergency vehicles of some kind.
As we got closer to the lights, it was another accident, this time a bicycle rider was struck by a car.
Later we found out that the victim was an old Boy Scout friend of my high school twin sons. The boy ended up at the emergency room and was released the same day. He is going to be okay, but he was of course shook up.
The next day, I told my kids that I think we should reach out to this boy, to bring him a card and maybe a balloon and some ice cream. To let him know that we are thinking of him and praying for him and that we care.
We did and it meant the world to him and his guardian.
It was important to bring my kids with me for this outreach. And, it was something we could do right now, right here, in our neighborhood.
Sometimes, we look for opportunities far away, and we should. But remember right here too, in our neighborhoods, in our communities, with our family and friends and acquaintances.
Sometimes it's accidents that happened then sometimes it's an ongoing local need to consider. Like, for us, there's Joyce, our next door neighbor, who is limited with her breathing disability and who is unable to go anywhere during the day. She is right here, right now, right next door. It doesn't have to be fancy or take forever or be that creative. It can be a short visit, to bring in her mail and ask, "How are you today?" And to give her doggie a treat.
I always want to think of times in the midst of everyday ordinary life, as opportunities to reach out, to let someone know that someone cares, that we care and that people in our community matter. And, we do that by being present and active in the lives of others.
It's real life. It's here, it's local.
It's not glamorous. It won't make the evening news. It's just living, in the moment, being a neighbor, a community member, a family member, a friend, a believer, where you live.
Yes, send money to Nepal, yes, go to Nepal, yes, sponsor someone going to Nepal, yes, pray and weep for Nepal. And, for tornado victims and others devastated by big disasters.
And, also see what is right in front of you. Right here. Right now.