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Holding Hands Together

by Fr. Jack McArdle with Aneel Aranha

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity. (Psalm 133:1)

It happened on a huge ranch somewhere in South Dakota. The mother was preparing some food, while her toddler son was amusing himself with some building blocks. It was a dark evening, and there was quite a storm outside. Her husband was down in the farmyard with the other workmen. The mother was so engrossed in her work that she failed to keep an eye on the child, who had, by now made his way to the back door. When she was finished her work she called him to feed him, and he didn't respond. She wasn't worried, thinking he may be asleep on a couch, he could have made his way upstairs, or downstairs to the cellar. It took some time for the coin to drop, and for her to realise that he was not around. She began to get anxious as she ran from one end of the house to the other, calling his name. It was then she spotted the back door open.

She ran outside into the rain and the darkness, frantically calling his name, but, apart from the storm, there wasn't a sound. She spent some time running around the outside of the house, before he decided to phone the farmyard, and call for help. Her husband and the workmen arrived immediately. The house was surrounded by huge fields of wheat, which was nearly twice the height of her son. They ran into the wheat, with torches, calling his name all the time. After some time, they called the police, as they continued the search. Eventually they had to give up, and resigned themselves to wait for the light of dawn. Many of the neighbours arrived to assist in the search. They ran every which way through the wheat, but to no avail.

Finally, one of the policemen called them all together, and he said to them "We're all running all over the place, without plan or order. The child is so small that he could be within yards of any one of us, but, with the tall wheat he is not visible. Why don't we hold hands, form a straight line, and move down sections of the field, one after the other." They did this, and it wasn't long until they found him. He was lying in a gully, and he was unconscious, after being exposed to the elements all night. The policeman picked him up in his arms, and ran towards the house. The mother was at the door, and the child was handed to her, but it was too late. The tiny flame of life was extinguished, and he was dead in her arms. She sat on the back porch, clutching her dead baby in her arms, as the others looked on in a state of shock and helplessness. Suddenly, from somewhere within the mother came a scream. "Why, oh why, didn't you people hold hands sooner?"

How many more people have to die in Iraq, Northern Ireland, Jerusalem, East Timor, before people begin to forgive each other, and hold hands ..... ?

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