“But so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd, who has more strength and purpose than we ever imagine.”
― Malcolm Gladwell
(a wooden cross made from the wood taken form one the many wrecked ships attempting to ferry refugees from Northern Africa to Lampedusa, Italy. It stands as a solitary reminder in the British Museum that ours is a living history of struggle and hope, death and life…Image courtesy of the BBC)
What would you do if you lived in the crosshairs of one of the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II?
What if you found yourself sitting at the epicenter, the starting point of a massively overwhelming crisis and never ending tragedy…standing as David facing a Goliath?
What if you were a curator to one of England’s largest and most important museums… you had found yourself reading and watching the news, like everyone else, feeling overwhelmed and helpless watching the thousands of refugees desperately trying to reach the shores of Italy’s Lampedusa eventually making their why to the safety of asylum scattered throughout the European Union?
You were nothing but a mere David staring at a distant Goliath….
Lampedusa is the largest of the Italian Pelegia Islands.
It sits closer to Africa than it does Sicily.
Think Key West, in proximity to Cuba verses the US, and you get picture.
And very much like the Cuban refugees who once flooded onto makeshift rafts and dinghies in order to flee the oppressive poverty as a result of Castro’s iron fisted communism, hoping almost beyond hope to make the precarious journey to US controlled waters, refugees by the thousands have left Africa’s northern shores hoping against hope to make their harrowing journey to the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa…and eventually to freedom throughout Europe.
The problem is finding and funding passage from the coast of Northern Africa to the almost 8 square mile Island of Lampedusa and eventually to the continental shores of Europe.
The ferryman are scrupulous.
The ships painfully overcrowded, dangerous and there are not enough life jackets.
The ocean is treacherous and very unforgiving.
Many ships do not make it.
Many “passengers” drown.
Many are small children and infants.
What do you do if you are one of the Italian residents of this overtly tiny island who has made a simple living as a carpenter, yet you see almost daily the sadness of the bodies washing ashore.
You see the survivors who anguish over their drowned loved ones…the children who did not survive.
You see the beaches littered by the wood from the ships which broke apart mid journey…
You find yourself one Sunday at Mass, attended by many of the same refugees who seem lost, alone, afraid—as you each pray to the same God…you search the static image of the Crucified Christ hanging before you for answers….
You decide to quit your furniture business and you head off to the beach.
You gather as much of the broken bits of wood from the shipwrecked refugee boats that you can and you set out to carve and fashion together crosses.
Crosses which are a symbol of both sacrifice and death as well as salvation and hope.
You fashion a large altar cross for your parish church.
Your priest proudly places it on the altar as a reminder to all who worship that there is a massive crises in a very fluid state just outside the church’s door.
Soon word spreads and more church’s want the crosses.
Pope Francis receives a cross.
The BBC runs the story about the crosses and soon a curator to the British Museum sees your story and she too wants a cross…not for herself but for the museum…as a solemn reminder of the current overwhelming moment of human history currently taking place in the world.
The greatest mass exodus of human beings since World War II with the numbers even eclipsing that time.
How better could a museum, visited by thousands from across the world, share in the story of our currently hurting world.
Just how a small David could meet a giant Goliath and could manage to make a meaningful difference.
Here’s the link to the full story…
No matter how we feel about the refugees—as I now wonder how can Europe ever absorb so many individuals,
wondering how can we keep ourselves safe as we offer safe haven.
I worry about the terrorists who use this crisis to their own advantage as a means of mixing and blending and disappearing until later, much later.
I worry about how so many people can be housed, fed, cared for—60 million people and growing daily….
I worry about this world.
I don’t know any answers…
but I do know we need to try to do something
Wow…changing the world one blessing at a time… LOVE this!
I know right?!—small ripples can make a giant effect…toward the positive 🙂
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
Oh I absolutely love the cross. It is a fabulous work of art I think.And it’s so cool what it’s made of. Another great post my friend. 🙂 ❤
I have no answers either Julie. Or for the drunk (at 10:00 this morning) who comes into church asking for food but preferably money for more booze. A man roughly my age who knows he needs to change but cannot, and walks a fine line between another arrest and being found dead on the street. I wish I did have answers.
That’s a hard one David—on the one hand—I say give to the man as God blesses your giving…. yet what of the choice of the man who has received your generosity and makes ill use of the gift…what of it if you know that he will indeed make ill use… do you not give when he asks because “you know” he will make a poor decision…are you aiding and abetting his lostness by giving and knowing he will mostly likely heap more woe upon himself—-
I know of some who when approached by a “beggar” actually will go buy some sort of fast food to hand over instead of cash—but that isn’t feasible when sitting in church…
I don’t know —-I suppose you give. God blesses the giving—-
I don’t know about all these refugees—the numbers of people is staggering and Europe can’t keep absorbing it all—I just love how Mr Putin turns his back….
I was duty deacon this morning Julie so couldn’t leave the building, but another elder took him and bought him some food – the same elder does this most weeks for this guy. The police say we are killing the drinkers/druggies with kindness because buying food frees their cash to buy cheap strong cider or drugs. They get arrested and locked up for a few weeks then go back to their old habits. There are only about 15 of them in Hereford but none of the agencies have any answers and the police end up acting as social workers as well as everything else.
It is difficult to know what to believe about the refugees/migrants. Even the BBC seems to admit that at least 75% are fit young men. I guess that is their culture – send the young men first. A bit different to the women and children first rule in the west! Then you end with some of the problems Germany has been facing of late because these young men have no respect for women.
I know when I was in Rome years ago, I had gone to the American Catholic Church there to met the secretary who had helped us set up a visit to the catacombs in the the Vatican. We got to talking and she warned us not to give money to the gypsies but to say “basta” or stop it, go away.
I know there are hustlers lurking but when I would see the very old or the crippled, I’ve give—my aunt would and still does scold me, but I tell her I never know if any may be an angel and I know that Jesus would offer healing or expelling of the evil spirit lurking within. I’m not one to expel evil as I’m not that “strong” but I can offer a few coins.
Yet the police are right—it becomes a codependent sort of illness as we all tend to lend a bit of a hand to the continuance of negative choices—it’s a mess
I think a good many of the refugees, not the families, are indeed the young angry men who look to bring down the West—oh we are setting up our demise in so many ways—-
Sadly Julie, not many can see that. How to react is a real challenge for followers of Jesus.
I love how you shared this. Thank you.
Excellent writing. Thank you for sharing from your “Goliath” size heart.