The other night I had an indoor soccer game, and a state of maximum hydration forced a pre-game visit to the restroom. The facility I play in has a swimming pool and a workout facility, and I guess some swimming lessons had just concluded because there in the bathroom with me was a small boy exiting the shower. He was wearing some sort of super hero underpants—you know, the type little boys wear. He had taken a shower to wash the chlorine from his little pudgy body, and he bounded out and skipped past me in a world all his own.
I went on with my business, still in view of the lockers where the boy was supposed to be changing into his dry clothes, but was instead hopping to and fro between two puddles he had dripped into existence. Then, as a I finished and went to wash my hands, he began singing. I’m not sure what the song was because he didn’t sing the words, just a series of fluctuating high notes, happy as a lark.
My smile broadened in the mirror at the boy’s freedom and joviality, and clearly I had this thought, prompted probably because here was this little boy alone in a very vulnerable place with no parents in sight: “Who in this world would ever hurt a kid!”
I walked past him and he smiled and sang on, and as I exited, I was relieved to see his father coming in to check on him and hurry him into his clothes.
As news hits today of the death of a little girl at the hands of a wayward adult, I still have no answer to my question. And I don’t write this in a judgmental, holier-than-thou fashion . . . I write it truly perplexed. I mean, I get evil. Heck, I do evil! I lust and cheat and lie, less often each day, I hope, but sure, as evil goes, I’m there. And I realize that some people are more evil than me—they really lust and cheat and lie; some even kill and maim and hurt too.
But it is another thing altogether to take the liberality of childhood—the drip-dry singing thing of youth—and massacre it, and with it destruct all hope of future and purpose and meaning. It is in the same category as other evil, yet somehow still in a morbid class all its own.
And though it is not the answer to my question, I do know my role in this is simple. Beyond praying and hoping and all those essential things, I can take part in watching and protecting and caring. I can make sure that little guy, singing and dancing in the bathroom, is accounted for. When the Indian kids who live next door to us ride their bikes in the cul-de-sac, I can keep an eye out. I can give of my resources to groups who fight against child sex trafficking and slave trade.
And even with my vigilance for the little ones on this earth, I know that I’ll hear the news again, of abused children, of slain little ones. And in those moments of welled-up hatred and disheartened rage, I can reflect only on the call of Jesus who tenderly said, “Let the little ones come onto me,” and hope that call echoes on to all the children who have been carelessly broken by the evil of this world.