“In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” Luke 12:1-3
We live in a fairly quiet neighborhood in spite of the fact that we are within breathing distance of a major highway. There have been a number of accidents, police response calls, chases and other activities that usually occur on a major artery. Still our home and those of our neighbors are rather isolated from each other. Occasionally someone will stop for a bit of light conversation, but nothing to create lifelong relationships. Sad in a way. The world has become so busy and focused on their own needs, they don’t often reach out to others that live right next door. Morning coffee with a friend has turned into a texting conversation. Time is consumed with interfacing online rather than face to face communication. Much of our society has separated itself from interaction outside their own walls.
We have one fellow on our block, who is wheel chair bound, due to the amputation of one leg. He often sits in front of his house, even during the very cold days. I think of him as the neighborhood watch dog and have a sense of security because he’s out there. We’ve had some conversations with him. Of course, my husband has introduced himself to everyone in the neighborhood. Even that doesn’t assure of us of who they are and what goes on when they go inside their homes. The same is true for them. They don’t know what we do with our days and nights when we lock the doors and turn off the lights.
Yet I find it astounding that a family of 15 could go about their lives without anyone knowing that they were leading a horrific existence. The story of a husband and wife and their 13 children surfaced recently. It showed a dysfunctional family in which the children had been submitted to torture and malnutrition. The oldest “child” being 29 and the youngest, 2. Each child looked much younger than their actual age, because they were so thin. These children had been held captive in their own home. They were homeschooled. They occasionally appeared in public with their parents and seemed to be happy. No one knew.
This story and many like it pop up from time to time and it makes me angry, sad, threatened, helpless and often hopeless. One article indicated they were very private people. The mother had no connection with her own family for 20 years. Some might say that religion played a part in this. Others may believe it was none of their business to intercede.
I don’t know what causes things like this to happen. I guess because I had a fairly normal upbringing. Unfortunately, these kids, thought their lifestyle was normal too, since it was all they knew from little on. Yet one of them knew it wasn’t right, so she fled and ran for help. Who knows how long this would’ve gone on had she not done so.
I cannot sit in judgment. I know that the truth will be revealed on the day of God’s calling to account. We will all be held accountable for things said or done behind the closed doors of our homes. We will also have to answer for the things we’ve thought within the confines of our minds.
While we wait for that day, we can become closer as neighbors. We can open our doors and step outside of them. We can include our neighbors in our prayers. We can reach out to them instead of cocooning ourselves from the world. God will help those 13 children through their long journey of recovery. I pray that we can all learn from this story.