Branwen climbed into bed with her children and spread her cloak over them. Propped on an elbow, she brushed lank curls from small foreheads and looked into the dark eyes that peered back trustingly into hers. In whispered softness, she sang them to sleep.
Little fire, starry light, guide me on my path tonight
On waves of dreams, as you sleep, ‘cross the seas, calm and deep
Farewell to troubles, lay them low, sing the seamaids, soft and slow
Little star, flame above, sail away the night, my love – Eye of Blind
For several years, I had the great privilege of serving families in need. As part of my work, I was invited into homes and lives to guide, teach, nurture, and when I could, to gather baskets of memories brimming with new ways of being and believing in the world. At most, I accompanied parents and children on their journeys for mere slivers of time, and yet in the collection of hours and days, I was witness to great suffering and love, desperation and hope.
Those who travel the helpers’ path are granted gifts. Not gifts wrapped in paper and laced with ribbon that we set on a windowsill and forget with time, but gifts that reside within us, that alter who we are and how we perceive our world.
We live in a time of divisiveness. Our politics shred our world, and unfiltered rhetoric spews like bile into the air, toxic with deception and blame. It is no wonder that we are losing our ability to listen and behold each other with open minds and compassionate hearts.
Branwen and her children live in an abandoned house by the sea, but they could live anywhere: in the mountains of China, on the plains of Africa, in the arid lands of Syria, or simply around the corner. Everywhere, mothers like Branwen touch small foreheads, peer into innocent eyes and sing their children to sleep. What would happen to our world if we became still and quiet and listened to those whispered songs?