Hope & Humanity During a Pandemic

“Joy cannot be felt without sorrow, pleasure without pain, love without emptiness. To have once had one’s heart touched is to carry the scar of love.” -Rumi

Last December, I was leaving a meeting downtown when I passed a young woman decorating a big Christmas tree outside her building. It was cold and we smiled at one another. “That’s a lot of ornaments”, I said, somewhat surprised that she had yet so many to place on the tree. “Ya,” she said, “hopefully some good will come out of it!

Huh? Is she cynical about Christmas, I mused to myself. Is it because of the pandemic?  What “good” could she be referring to? The good that comes from following tradition and celebrating the birth of Christ? The good that is evident when she volunteers to make her building and her company look festive? What on earth was she talking about? And then just as I was passing her, I caught a glimpse of a face; a child’s face creatively embedded on one of the ornaments. I looked up and around and to my utter amazement, every ornament had a different child’s face on it. How wonderful I thought; these must be the children of the employees who work here.

Sometimes the truth is revealed to us in layers, just like the layers of an onion until the light of illumination pierces through and offers us the core, the complete picture. Standing there in the cold, I had the last layer removed and the “Truth” finally hit me like a ton of bricks!

Underneath each photograph was the name of a child and the word “missing.” This was a tree of missing children! I couldn’t believe it! There were so many of them, maybe two hundred or more! I got closer to study their faces: Angela, 8, missing August 7, 2016; Jeffery, 5, missing Jan 11, 2017; Susan, 3, missing Nov. 19, 2010; and on and on. Some were missing from 1998! They’re probably not even children anymore.

I found myself outraged. What on earth happened to these kids? Are they alive and in hiding with one parent as you hear about so often; or are they suffering somewhere with their abductors or are they dead? What private hell must their parents be enduring to have lost their child and never have received closure? My heart ached at the thought of losing one of my children.  I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I turned to her, and said: “This is such a beautiful thing you are doing.  God bless you and your organization for doing this. Some good will come out of it. It already has.” And then we hugged, two strangers sharing a precious connection; a moment of humanity.

As spring arrives I’m reminded of that tree of ornaments and wonder whether any of those kids were found. It is not always obvious whether the good we do has any real impact, but I’m convinced that a shower of small deeds often at the community level are more potent and meaningful than the big policy changes we often expect from our leaders. The best change comes from individual acts of kindness.

We are living in unprecedented times.  There is uncertainty in the world. The pandemic has left many of us emotionally scarred and economically marginalized.  However, as more and more people are vaccinated, and lock downs around the world end, I pray that we emerge from our homes hopeful and determined to find positive ways to make a difference. Even though we don’t agree on how this virus started and whether the third wave is coming; humanity and Mother Earth, I believe are resilient and adaptable.  We will survive this and we will learn from this.  Lets not forget to connect heart to heart and human to human. Let us commit to outrageous acts of service for others. In the end, it’s our humanity that will save us.

Grace Cirocco
179 King Street
St. Catharines, ON
L2R 3J5 Canada
Telephone: (905) 688-0868
Fax: (905) 688-2788