Confession

I feel comfortable.

We have so much food it is overflowing from the pantry.
We have so many friends we can’t keep up with having them over.
We get to zip off to Portugal or the mountain at a moment’s notice.
We have books and toys and tools.
We have a pizza oven and a pool.
We have access to medical care, education, entertainment.
We have a television, computers, laptops, tablets, phones and a gazillion chargers and cables.
We have camping gear stashed away in the ceiling when there are people without so much as a tarpaulin for protection from the elements.
Even our youngest boys earn more on their paper runs than millions of families are trying to survive on.

I feel uncomfortable.

We know what is happening in the world,
But we can forget.
We have the luxury to ignore.
We have enough to fill our time that we can turn a blind eye.
We can be challenged to own our apathy,
to stop justifying our complacency,
to stop defending our inaction….

And still do nothing.

I don’t want to be in love with *the idea* of helping.
I want to help.
I don’t want to be in love with *the idea* of making a difference.
I want to make a difference.
I don’t want to be in love with *the idea* of sacrifice.
But I am.
I don’t actually want to sacrifice.
I want to be able to stop giving before it hurts.
I want to appease my conscience without changing my lifestyle.
I want to make sure I have enough.
But I’m slow to define *enough*.

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THE TRUTH

sadness envelopes
joy evaporates
darkness descends
peace dissipates

terror binds
fear blinds
anxiety enslaves
anger strangles

danger paralyses
despair cripples
hatred threatens
hell arrives

betrayal hurts
memory haunts
unbelief beckons
desperation bites

But the deeper the darkness
The brighter light can shine

HOPE promises
FAITH illuminates
LOVE captures
LIFE captivates

a girl’s story

The smile on mum’s face
Has been replaced
By terror
In her eyes

She tries to give hope
But barely copes
Impossible
Fear to hide

Where is the laughter
Where is my father
The life that
I remember?

Ever so slowly
Tension had grown
Security
Disappeared

Then so suddenly
In an instant
Our lives changed
Forever

We were on the run
Avoiding guns
We were now
Refugees

That was weeks ago
We do not know
If we’ll live.
What future?

She might smile again
Father be found
We have to
Cling to hope

I remember our life
A world without strife
Let’s fight for peace
Please

are there any answers?

it’s got to be better than this, doesn’t it?
could it be worse?
what will we need?
what can we carry?
where will we find food?
water?
shelter?
what will we do when our money runs out?
when our clothes wear out?
when we need the toilet?
if it rains?
if it snows?
what is snow, Mama?
does it snow where we are going?
where are we going?
what language do the people speak?
how will we understand?
will we be there by winter?
we will be somewhere safe by winter, won’t we?
what if we’re not?
will Grandma make it?
should we leave her behind?
we couldn’t,
could we?
will this guy help us
or just take our money?
like the last one.
then what?
why can’t we leave uncertainty behind
with all our belongings, our friends, our life?
will we ever get away from fear and terror?
what if the boat doesn’t come?
how many is too many in one vessel?
where are the life jackets?
why did we never have an opportunity to learn to swim?
how can we help the children?
the elderly?
how long will it take?
are the waves always this big?
why do we have to go at night?
is it really safe?
what if the boat sinks?
will we be the next victims?
what will happen if we stay here?
will we be the next victims?
will our babies be torn from our arms?
will our daughters be raped?
will our sons be executed?
will our young people be taken?
what of those who already have been?
how will they find us if we go?
will they have anyone to find if we stay?
how do you know what to do?
what do you do when the chance of success is so slim,
but the consequences of failure unthinkable?
can we survive?
how can it be better to risk drowning?
but aren’t we the lucky ones,
the ones who can try to escape?
is this really better?
is this really a choice?
what if they turn us back?
what if they refuse us asylum?
what about those people who say we should use the proper channels?
don’t they know there aren’t enough proper places and we don’t want to die?
do they know desperation?
where will we find security?
will we ever find peace?
will we always have secrets?
will the pain ever abate?
will anyone help us?
who will understand?
have you heard the guns?
have you had to hide?
have you been hungry, really gnawingly hungry?
have you lived in a world of whispers?
have you heard the screams?
the sobs?
the silence?
have you wondered if you’ll be alive in the morning?
have you hoped and prayed you would make it home from market with a loaf of bread?
have you ever waited,
you know not for what,
knowing only that it will be bad?
have you lived with fear?
are you familiar with sinking dread?
do you know sheer terror?
has despair been your companion?
have you heard the stories?
they couldn’t be true,
or could they?
are you scared of us?
do you think we’ll take your jobs, your houses, your tax dollars?
don’t you realise we’re clinging to life?
when you watch Masterchef, could you please remember we’re starving?
when you celebrate your birthdays, would you remember we’re burying our dead?
when you exercise, will you think about us running for our lives?
when you drive your cars, can you consider we don’t even know where we are going?

do you think
you could be
the answer
to any of our questions?

Be Honest

Little did I know when I did the Oxfam Trailwalker earlier this year and talked about refugees that they would become such “big news” before the year’s end. Little did I imagine I would be challenging myself to greater action than just crocheting a handful of blankets.

I did not know a poem would drip from my pen. But it has.

BE HONEST

Outrage at exploitation
Who took that photo?
Sensational.
Undignified.
It shouldn’t be paraded
for all the world to see.

A nameless child
Red t-shirt
Blue shorts
Two shoes.

Face down
On the sand
Sea lapping
A foreign land.

A single death is a tragedy,
a million deaths is a statistic –
said Joseph Stalin.

Last week seventy-one suffocated
In a truck.
It was news
for a day.
71 is too close to a million
To be much more than a statistic.

But let us wake up.
The one.
He had a name.
Aylan.
He was three years old.
He had a brother.
Five years.
They laughed with a big white teddy bear.
They had a Mama.
And a father.

Only he remains.
Everything that matters lost.
No family.
No freedom.
Certainly no country, job, car, insurance, healthcare, food, house, home.

He lifts his hand to his face.
The morgue behind him.
Heart shattered with grief.

His babies.
Gone.
His love.
Gone.
Dreams destroyed.
Desperation personified.
A future unfathomable.
Uncertain.

This one remains.
And how many million more?

We’ll do what we can.
Will we?
Will we really?
Or will we settle for what doesn’t hurt us?
Will we really sacrifice
for our brothers and sisters in humanity?

We are neighbours.
Are we Good Samaritans?
Or will we turn away, hurry on by,
Say they are too far away
And too different to us anyway?
Will we justify our complacency
Defending ourselves
Insisting
We have problems in our own back yard
As if helping is an either/or proposition?

Will we take coins from our pocket
To pay for a refugee’s care?
Will we take time from our day
To help?
To do something?
To find out what we could do?

Will we give up anything
For those who have lost everything?
Or will we sigh
The problem’s too big
And do nothing?

Will we open our hearts?
Our homes?
Our lives?
For even one?

We have seen.
That photo has spoken.
We have no excuse.