We’ve been talking about the Underground Railroad recently during our homeschool days. How do you introduce the atrocities that led to the need for such a thing to young children? How do you teach the horrors of history so that you can also teach the heroics? How do you explain to children who have friends of every color, that there were (and still are) people who dehumanize an entire population, based solely on an outward appearance?
In one book we read, illustrations showed people opening up their doors and their arms to runaway slaves. Escaping from a horrific existence, many escapees found sanctuary in the homes of strangers who were willing to risk their very lives for what they knew was right. What compelled these “conductors” and “station masters” to such selflessness and personal risk?
Simply…they had a vision that far exceeded their own importance in their eyes. They saw something greater than themselves, a need that demanded of their consciences a response. Discomfort and danger they willingly accepted for the sake of being a part of giving others a chance at freedom.
It made me think of our days fostering a beautiful little girl who had come to us from traumatic circumstances. Though the dangers we faced were nearly nonexistent, I now know the feeling of having a vision greater than my own comfort. To this precious child, I wanted to give safety. It took many days of tender moments before she began to trust that I wasn’t going to hurt her. It took weeks longer before the light came into her eyes and joy began to enter her world.
You see, I don’t just want to be safe myself. I want to be safe for someone else. I want to be that safe place, with arms open to receive someone who’s facing brokenness, who’s trying to find freedom. I want my friends to know that when we talk, they’re safe with me…they’re not being judged…they won’t be gossiped about…they can find rest and come out of hiding.
Are you a safe place? Can others come to you expecting to find shelter from the storms that hunt them? Are your comforts secondary to a greater vision or are your comforts a guiding force?
These are questions I have to continually ask, because if I’m not careful, the answers can swiftly change. I know where I can go when I need a safe place…to the arms of God…to the embrace of my husband…to the ears of several dear friends…And when it’s time for them to need safety, I can only determine that I will be that same safe place for them.
Where do you go when you need a safe place? How are you a safe place for others?
If you’re interested, the books we’ve used in our school days to introduce the tragic topic of slavery in America include Who Owns the Sun and Follow the Drinking Gourd. I definitely recommend these if you’re trying to open up this discussion with your children. I read them with tears in my eyes, choking on words at the end of each, knowing that they were honest, while still being a safe and non-traumatizing entry to this topic with my kiddos.