This quote reminds me of someone I met sixty years ago when I was ten. I had been taken to a Children’s Home with some of my siblings. My second day there, I sat outside in the sunlight close to a swing set. I looked over at a building separate from mine. A door opened and a group of boys came out to play on the equipment. One boy sat alone with his head down. Snot was running from his nose. He was trying to wipe it away with his hands. He was smaller than the other boys and thin as a rail. His hair had not been combed and it was a mousey color. He raised his head in a frightened, timid way. I could see he was ugly. He was so ugly, he was cute. I could see his lips quiver when several boys stopped by him. I heard them laugh and call him “Stupid,” “Ugly,” and “Baby Mikey.” His eyes dropped, and he looked at the ground. I got up and walked by Him. I could see the tears form in his eyes. I smiled at him and went into the building.
The next day I sat in the same place I had the day before. When Mike came out of the building, I could see his eyes searching every where until he found me. He sat a little ways away from me and looked out of the corner of his eye, body rigid, hands jammed into his jean pockets. We sat a while in silence. I finally spoke and told him my name, and he told me his.
The next day he gained the courage to come and sit by me. He started to talk and his tears flowed. I could hear the pain in his voice, see the sadness in his face as he talked of home, the children’s home, and the boys who taunted him. This went on for a couple of weeks.
One day I heard the song in his heart. It sang to me without any words. I saw images in my head of things he yearned to say, but could not articulate.”Do I matter in this world?. Am I special in someone’s eyes?. Can anyone believe in me?. I knew this intuitively.” I motioned for him to sit down beside me.
From that day on, I told him stories to heal his heart: The little lion who was scared of his shadow who later developed a mighty roar. Or the story of a tiny mouse who looked in the water to see his real self and saw the reflection of a good-looking mouse that was strong, powerful, and good. Soon the boys learned Mike was under my protection and they stopped taunting him.
Several months later, I came out and sat at my favorite spot. I looked for Mike, but could not find him. One of the boys said he was taken away, but he didn’t know where. I grieved for him. I loved him too. I recognized, underneath our skins, we were the same. Even after all these years, I have days when I think of him and I say a prayer: God, keep Mike safe.