An article makes its way around social media every year during summer. It details the differences between a vacation and a trip when you’re traveling with young children. It was so true that I laughed heartily as I read it the first time.
With the knowledge that our beach “vacation” was actually a trip (save for the two days Grammy joined us and my husband and I actually ate some full meals sitting down), my husband and two daughters packed our bags and traveled to Hilton Head, S.C., for a week.
We were expecting to take a little break from our daily routines, as anyone hopes to, on our trip. And the news in our world had been heavy. We’d just walked through the first days of grief from the shooting in Orlando and great loss of life in Istanbul and Baghdad. One afternoon while the girls were napping, exhausted from their morning of beach play, I came across this poem by Warsan Shire:
“later that night
I held an atlas in my lap
Ran my fingers across the whole world
Where does it hurt?
This poem rang through my head. It’s so true. There was and is a great grief hanging over our world. There is this deep sadness and pain throughout our world.
And we feel it. Sometimes it is ours directly and sometimes indirectly. But when we are paying attention, we feel it. And it can feel hopeless. Even when we know and believe in hope.
We all went out to dinner our last night at the beach. Waiting outside to enter the restaurant, my soon to be three-year-old, a preacher’s kid through and through, was playing with Bible trivia cards. She promptly walked up to a woman and showed them to her. It turns out, my daughter had naturally gravitated to another minister who was excited to play the game with her. (My daughter’s version of game is naming the characters on the nativity scene on the front and paying no mind to the trivia questions).
As she and her new friend played the game, the sky opened and it started pouring. Her new friend said to her as we all went to our tables, “Lydia, remember you are loved by God.” Lydia said, “so are you!” We smiled and parted ways.
The rain poured as we ate our seafood. When we came out, the rain stopped as suddenly as it had started and a beautiful rainbow stretched over the water of the inlet. Lydia was overjoyed to see her first rainbow in person.
She jumped up and down and loudly proclaimed, “Mommy, that’s my first rainbow I see. That means God loves everyone, everywhere! God loves the whole world!”
At the end of our trip, that was the hope-filled benediction I needed to hear. Some words of healing from the mouth of an almost three-year-old—that especially in the places where it hurts, the love of God is there too.
We return again and again to our calling to be the people of God who hope and love in ways that seem impossible. But we do it. And we work for justice and for peace. We must.
Indeed, God loves everyone.
Rev. Leah Grundset Davis is the communications specialist for the Alliance of Baptists. She lives in Bristow, Va., with her husband John, daughters Lydia and Sadie Pearl and dog, Moses.