Lost. . .and found. . .
It only takes a moment for a little one to slip out of sight.
Even as you know that she has just toddled past the slide or peddled to the other side of the playground, fear still grips your heart when she seemingly disappears from view. Now you see her, now you don’t.
The tightness in your chest eases as you glimpse her impish face peeking at you through the monkey bars or spy her trike speeding back towards you. Relief kicks in as well as a sheepish acknowledgment of the irrational over reaction.
Any parent or grandparent can surely relate, any one who has “lost” a child in a grocery store or on the beach or in an amusement park. I recall the times I allowed that panic to overtake me, even as I found a kid browsing through the cereal aisle, or blithely building a sand castle, or waiting in line for the roller coaster. Or even in the neighborhood park where the children’s area is gated and keyed, where a fence encircles the perimeter to assure safety for the kids and peace of mind for the minders.
So as I sat that day with the sun warming my face, laughing at myself and smiling as I watched the little ones at play, my mind conjured the chilling stories of other mothers and grandmothers who have been denied this among so many other small but precious pleasures. Their stories have absorbed us for weeks, the flight from danger, abuse and violence, the overwhelming drive to protect their children, the desire to provide them the security they were denied. And then, the arrival at the place of refuge only to lose the very reasons why they made such a perilous journey, lose their children to a broken system that inhumanely separates parent from child.
The stories continue to unfold, as a president pontificates and equivocates, as politicians posture and procrastinate, as too many of the children are still lost, miles away from their anxious parents, caught in a tangled administrative morass even as efforts are being made to undue the heinous wrong. And even as their parents long to hear their voices, long to see the sun on their faces, long to watch them at play, long to find them.
Yet as we ready to celebrate our nation’s founding I trust that all is not lost. I trust that the children and their families will be reunited, that our country will come together to repair our immigration system and further ensure its just implementation. I trust that we will recall our social compact that preserves individual freedom and fosters shared responsibility among its fractious citizenry. And I trust that we will remember what it means to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people, that is charged with perfecting this imperfect union.
And I trust that we will yet regain our moral bearings as a nation of immigrants that opens its doors to those in need, opens its hands and hearts to those who suffer. And I trust that we will recall our nation’s legacy as the city upon the hill, as the beacon of light and hope in the world, and rededicate ourselves to realizing its promise as the land of the free, the home of the brave.
All is not lost, this Fourth of July. The flags will wave, the parades will march on, the fireworks will light up the night skies.
And we will find our way.