Friday, August 22, 2008

lost and found

The UPS man came this morning with my proofs for Fiber Gathering. I won't lie, I'm so excited that I can barely focus on the pages, let alone proofread it! I'm hoping I calm down enough to start reading carefully, but in the meanwhile, a few other things happened this week. Interesting things...stories for you.

I was walking to the library after dinner to return a few books. (I love walking to the library!) I called my best friend, Dr. Anne, to chat. She was coming home from the hospital and discovered a blue jay flopping around in her driveway and on her rural road. It was clearly injured, so she tried to help it. Scooped up (no touching a bird) into a box with a clean towel, it rested while she contacted the Vermont Institute of Natural Science for some advice. Dr. Anne saves lives! We said goodbye. I looked up.

In front of me, a little African boy of about 5 was running up the sidewalk and up the street. His face was tear-streaked. Two white women on the other side of the road ignored him as he raced past cars. A white girl, perhaps 10, was biking nearby, circling and looking worried. I asked her what was happening...she said he was running away, and "He don't speak English. He speak African." I tried to explain that there was no such thing as just "African," but then just focused on the little boy. We have a strong refugee resettlement program in town, but in a place that isn't used to non-English speakers, the transition is rough.

I saw an older sister peek her head around the corner, watching him run. I called out..but no good answer. I watched this little boy race up the hill, two blocks away now. I popped out my phone again, called the professor and said I might be a bit late coming home...here's why. All of a sudden, the little boy turned, blocks away, and looked at me. I stood still. I tried to look kind and calm. Slowly now, slowly, he started coming back in my direction, not running exactly, but a fast trot sort of walk.

He came close to me, and I touched him gently on the back. We walked together towards where I'd seen the sister and the girl on a bike. I tried English...small tilt of the head upwards, but no response. I tried French--just another head tilt from a scared little boy, with more tears, no words. After another two blocks, we came to a family that looked remarkably like his. Two women with African headscarves, two other children. At the street corner, I reached out without thinking and took his hand. His hand fit perfectly in mine, no fight left. We crossed the street.

His family looked so relieved, asking how I'd caught him. They had only a little English, and explained his older sister left and he just took off after her...they asked me about my telephone, and said "police, police?" I smiled and said no. I gestured to my library book, went off to the library. It takes a village, I guess. All I could think of was how that kid trusted me, some strange white woman. We automatically took hands. We crossed the street.

The blue jay hit its head but will probably make it. He's an "inpatient" at the rehabilitation center.

Lastly, there's a short video you might want to see. Rabbi Laszlo Berkowits, my childhood rabbi, is a close family friend who diapered us and fed us, played soccer with us, and taught us about life. Uncle Larry is a Holocaust survivor. He's been interviewed by the Washington Post. Check it out here. Knowledge of the worst might just help us love and protect one another, I think. Be a witness for good.

Have a good weekend! Tell me what you think about all this in the comments while I'm off proofreading, ok? I love hearing what you have to say.

9 Comments:

Blogger Donna said...

You really must write a book that is not about knitting.

August 22, 2008 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

I can't wait to see Fiber Gathering.

Good luck to the blue jay.

Holding hands is an automatically comforting gesture across all cultures.

Big hug.

August 22, 2008 at 3:35 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Love is recognizable across all barriers humans create as Love is created by the Creator.

August 22, 2008 at 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Janet said...

Lovely storytelling, and memorable story. Good for all concerned.

August 22, 2008 at 7:43 PM  
Anonymous AlisonH said...

Beautiful. There is no fooling a child: he knew you cared about him, and in the presence of love we become strangers no more.

August 22, 2008 at 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Deborah Robson said...

Yes, Joanne. And it's partly from having the experience of being outsiders in one place or another that we learn how to reach out, and why.

Love ya.

August 23, 2008 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger cyndy said...

You are a witness for good, Joanne!

August 25, 2008 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger knitalot3 said...

It's so cool that you had the courage to help him. We have been taught for so long that the right thing for an adult to do is leave children (that aren't ours)alone.

I love your blog.

August 25, 2008 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger beadlizard said...

Children can sense goodness. Beautiful post. --Syl

August 25, 2008 at 9:12 PM  

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