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Sorrow on a Distant Beach

I have to apologize. I wanted this morning’s reflection to be a “hi! I’m back!” and a reflection on everything we hope to be doing at St. Matthew’s this fall. That post will come, but not today. Instead, I am struggling with the images of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler whose body washed up on a Turkish beach. His family was trying to flee the violence in Syria, and they drowned when the boat they were on capsized. The latest reports say that his family had sought to come to Canada, but nothing came of their hand-delivered application.

I’ve seen the image, even if only in glimpses, and I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. As some of you know, I once held the body of my dead daughter Heather, so these images are a personal trigger for me. It is not something that I would wish even for my worst enemy. So admittedly this reflection has a subtext of my own experience and grief.

So what do we make of an image like this? I would hope that this reminds us of our humanity, that it might inspire us to acts of greater compassion, and not sit behind a fence, fearful of ‘the other.’ Jesus called us to love our neighbours, and even took it a step further, to something completely radical: love our enemies. He was explicit as to what happens when we do not welcome the stranger, or help the helpless.


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