When we parents offer our children up to the world, to serve, to give, to go, to heal and teach and dig wells and make justice, we'd better be clear about what we're doing.
We are giving them up.
A brilliant light and vibrant life was taken away from this life. He died along with the poorest of the poor, the desperate, precious people of Haiti. A young man whose mother and father taught him to love and risk and sacrifice has paid the ultimate price for his commitment. Ben Larson had gone to teach in Haiti. His life is lost to us, to his wife, to his friends and family, including his siblings and his parents, April Ulring Larson and Judd Larson.
I know his mother. And I confess, it's April for whom my heart is breaking most of all. She is a great mom. She brought up her kids to love God, to give and give and give. And so they did. Be careful what you do, moms. Be careful what you do, dads. You give your children to the world and it doesn't always spare them.
My daughter spent several weeks in L'Aquila, Italy, a few years before the earthquake there. She was there to serve. When the earthquake struck Haiti, she was in an unreachable village in rural South Africa. She was there to learn, to serve. It was an unnerving reminder that we send our kids out into the world, honoring their commitments to justice and healing, and we aren't in control. Of course, of course, we're not in control anyway, anywhere.
We share our children, we share one another with the whole world. They do not belong to us. We nurture and guide them along, we encourage and succor them. And, if we're like the Larson parents grieving in Duluth, Minn., we encourage these risky behaviors for the sake of the world.
I never knew how much my mom worried about my trips to the former Soviet Union when I was a young adult until the last year of her life when she gave me her journal to read. She was a nervous wreck. But she never told me not to go. I'm grateful for being given up to the world, to serve a larger purpose, a larger community, a higher good. And I do the same with my two girls. Send them off, send them out. To change the world, to take risks and perhaps live dangerously. For the sake of love.
And I am especially holding April in my heart, another mother who told her kid, "Go!" and he did. Peace to her, to Judd, to the rest of their family, and to all who mourn.
Life comes from death. Every time. One way or another. Every time. Life comes from death. And it will now too.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers