July 16, 2022
by Joan Blandin Howard
Creighton University - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 394

Micah 2:1-5
Psalm 10:1-2, 3-4, 7-8, 14
Matthew 12:14-21

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Gather Us In: Thoughts on the Synod

Where am I?

Today’s psalm and words of Micah aren’t the most uplifting.  Countless times throughout scripture we hear cries of the poor, the destitute, the forgotten – yearning for God, wanting God to cure all disease, mend and fix problems, large and small.  In today’s psalm we hear “Why, O Lord do you stand aloof”, bemoaning the apparent absence of God.  Why does evil seem to have the upper hand? We are surrounded by wars, civil strife, disease and poverty.  At times life seems overwhelming and endlessly burdensome. We are easily tempted to give up hope and trust in God.  The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, went so far as to say, “God is dead”.  Is God dead?  In the midst of evil, are there not signs of God’s presence, God’s loving care for his children?

The saddest experience of my life – was the sight of a little girl at a train crossing.  I was on a train slowly traveling through East Germany, before the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.  The train slowed as it approached a small village like all East German villages of that time – gray, rundown, no signs of life, no window boxes overflowing with flowers, no vegetable gardens as seen in West German villages. A feeling of sadness and abandonment settled on it like a dense polluted fog. 

There she was. A little girl about 7 yrs old.  She was dressed in a well-worn hand-me down drab dress and dirty shoes – one obviously too small and the other too big.  She was holding hands with an elderly man, maybe her grandfather.  I began waving exuberantly as you do when you see someone at a RR crossing – especially a child. There was no reaction from the child or grandfather.  That child made no gesture of acknowledgment.  She did not smile, wave or follow the train with her eyes. They in no way responded to the presence of the train.  They appeared frozen – maybe in hopelessness. At that time, the people of East Germany lived in destitute poverty and debilitating hopelessness.

I think of her often. Today she would be about 40 years old.  What is her life like now?  Once the Berlin wall came down, did she, as so many other East Germans, find a new life among the generous and hospitable West Germans.  

Was God present to that child? Were her eyes glazed over in hopelessness not able to see God, as she did not see the train?   Possibly that little girl and her grandfather were yearning for God’s presence, with no relief.  All I know for sure is that there was a trainload of American, French and English passengers who reached out to her.

There is no denying that evil exits and many suffer.  However, there are as many reaching-out in individual, if limited, ways.  I think of countries welcoming refugees. Numerous international charitable organizations.  Philanthropists. The stranger who stops to help a stranger.  Teachers, doctors, nurses, other health professionals.  Those who contribute to food banks.

Worldwide in significant and insignificant ways hundreds of thousands are reaching-out, sustaining the needy, reflecting the presence of God’s loving care for God’s children. Together we sustain each other in times of need and hopelessness.

The questions I ask myself: “am I standing aloof” or am I actively involved in sustaining my neighbor?  One little girl made a big impression on me.  Who else makes such an impression that I reach-out reflecting the presence of God?

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.

Sharing this reflection with others by Email, on Facebook or Twitter:

Email this pageFacebookTwitter

Print Friendly

See all the Resources we offer on our Online Ministries Home Page

Daily Reflection Home

Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook