ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By
Joseph Walker

PRAY FOR THE CHILDREN

It’s late – or early, depending on how you prefer to think of the first moments after midnight.  Personally, I prefer to think of them from a prone position – in my bed, with my eyes closed and the covers tucked under my chin.

But sleep has not come easily these past days, and I find myself wandering around the house in the early morning hours, peeking in on my children, making my parental rounds.  Occasionally I kneel at a bedside – to pull up covers, to gently stroke straggled hair away from closed eyelids, to kiss a soft cheek, to pray.

Mostly, I pray.

Which isn’t a new thing with me, by any means.  Ever since I became a parent nearly three decades and five children ago, I’ve done a lot of praying for my children.  My prayers became especially intense when our eldest child, AmyJo, was about 3.  I was assigned by the newspaper for which I was working to cover the murder of a 3-year-old girl who had been kidnapped from her home about 15 miles from where we were living at the time.  No matter how hard I tried to be objective and dispassionate as I went through the motions of the work I had been trained to do, I couldn’t help being overwhelmed by the harshest of all realities for any parent: that no matter how hard you try to protect your children and no matter how carefully you monitor their activities, there are always going to be times when they are incredibly vulnerable.

And so, like other parents, I pray – for my children and for the world in which they are growing up.  While most parents understand that life will deal its share of hard knocks to our kids – and that some of those knocks will actually help to shape them in a positive way – none of us wants to see our children suffer.  So when horrifying events unfold in the world around us we find ourselves hurting – for the children, for their parents and for ourselves.  We mourn the tragic loss of life. We mourn the pain felt by families who are out there suddenly enduring these same early morning hours with empty arms and broken hearts.  And we mourn the loss of innocence and the passing of a national feeling of safety, security, comfort and peace.

Instinctively we look for ways to ease our pain through action.  We rail against the “animals” who perpetuate evil, and we call upon law enforcement officials to spare no expense in punishing the guilty to the full extent of the law.  We increase security measures and exercise more caution, at least for a while, and we do everything we can to help us feel safer.  But deep down inside we ache with the gnawing certainty that when it comes right down to it there is only so much we can do.

The rest is left to God.

And so we pray.  Sobered by reminders of reality we ask God to make up the difference between what we can do and what we can’t control.  And then we cling – ferociously – to our families.  We tell them how much we love them.  We cherish each moment that we share and we send them out each day to face the world and all of its wonderful and terrible possibilities.  And when they come home at the end of the day – sometimes triumphant and sometimes scarred – we embrace them.  We wipe away their tears.  We correct them and encourage them and love them.  And we thank God for the privilege.

At least, we should.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to finish my rounds.  There’s a teenage boy sleeping upstairs who, whether he knows it or not, needs a kiss on the cheek.

And a prayer.

# # #

— © Joseph Walker

For more ValueSpeak, please visit
http://www.sfpnn.com/joseph_walker1.htm

E-mail Joseph at: valuespeak@msn.com 


Look for Joe's book,
"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.

# # #

— © Joseph Walker

For more ValueSpeak, please visit
http://www.sfpnn.com/joseph_walker1.htm

E-mail Joseph at: valuespeak@msn.com 


Look for Joe's book,
"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.