I’ve never been to the Bahamas, which I regret. I’ve heard the stories. Everyone I’ve met who has been there came back deeply in love with the place. The blindingly beautiful white sand beaches, the crystal clear azure waters – and the people. Always the people. Whatever adventures their stories held, at some point there would be mention of how generous and warm and kind everyone they met had been.

I am sure you know where I am going with this.

I want to say that it is beyond belief that we have turned away the people of the Bahamas after a major hurricane demolished their homes. Not only their homes. Their stores, their schools, their hospitals, their everything. Have you seen the pictures? It’s all gone. The buildings are gone, and more importantly, many of the people are too.

The number of dead and missing is mind-numbing. Those who remain are faced with questions about what to do. What to do with the bodies, what to do for sanitation, what to do for shelter, what to do for food. What to do? And in the wake of all this, regardless of our long connection with the islands and the people, our nation has turned its back and slammed the door. We forced those already en route to what they thought was help and reprieve to disembark.

I want to say that it is beyond belief. It’s not. Behavior that once would have been unthinkable now seems to be standard operation.

I’ve mentioned before that my parents are ministers. I don’t bring them up to toss religion at you – they would be horrified if I did – but because they are the people who raised me so most of my reference points stem from there. And my mom preached this sermon once …

Mom was preaching about the miracle of the loaves and fishes. You know the one. Ever an academic, mom reminded people that at the time, Jesus was a wanted man. The ruling government was unhappy with his radical ideas of love and compassion and wanted him stopped. This is why he was preaching in the middle of the desert.

She pointed out that anyone setting out for a hike into the hot, unforgiving wilderness to hear a man speak understood what they were doing, and where they were going. They would not have set out without provisions. They were not foolish. However, in those days of highway robbery, valuable things such as food and drink would have been kept close and hidden.

The miracle, mom said, was not the conjuring of fish and bread appearing from thin air, but rather, through his words and teaching of compassion, the people unbent, opened up and shared what they had with their neighbors “and the multitude was fed.” And that, my mom stressed, was a miracle indeed.

I’ve been very blessed in my life. I have seen this same miracle play out many times. On a human to human level, it is so clear. Our mighty nation, with all the wealth and power at its disposal, must remember how to unbend. We are so much richer when we do.

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