Today’s Reading: Leviticus 16:1-19
Atonement. When you hear this word or think of this word: visions of isolation, despair, desolation comes to mind. These are the same images that we think of when someone loses a family member, especially a child. This loss can be emotionally loss, spiritually loss, mentally loss, or even physically loss. The myth of these losses is that you are alone and no one can understand you or the needs that you are going through. This is a very hard place and difficult place to comprehend and cope.
This past week, my family and I were blessed with a magical blessing. We have met the criteria with Ruby’s and Ollie’s health condition to be recipients of Make-a-wish. Ruby’s wish was to go to Disney world. Both of the children’s conditions are genetic and non terminal, but they had the chance to do something that was top of their list. As part of the this beautiful organization, there is another organization called “Give Kids the World.” This entire experience is so surreal. Both organizations are made to give hope to all kids no matter their abilities.
Give Kids the World, GKTW, provides unlimited meals and accommodations at no charge to the guest. They are staffed with employees and over 16,000 volunteers. They make the wishes and the week you spend there truly magical. Each week that the guests are there they have a theme for each day. Monday – Halloween, Tuesday-Taco Tuesday, Wednesday- surprise birthday for the imaginary bunny Mayor, Thursday- Christmas, Friday – Fairy Tale day. Each week gives the guest a time that might not come that year for the guest that has a terminal illness. The entire concept of GKTW came from a hotel owner.
The story goes, one day a child had a wish to come to Disney World. The parents called looking for a reservation, but the phone call was not able to go through. The parents could not find a room anywhere in Orlando. Unfortunately, the child passed away before their wish was granted due to no rooms available. The owner of the hotel made a promise that any child that needs a place to stay for a wish, there will be a place for that child. Due to the unfortunate loss of this child a new vision and mission was created that has helped over 170,000 families have their wishes granted. Nothing can take the place of a child, but their lives and legacy can have profound impacts.
In today’s reading we are presented with the loss of Aaron’s sons. These sons had played a very crucial role in the establishment of the Judaism priest duties. They were some of the original priests and keepers of the tabernacle. They are referenced at the beginning chapter of Leviticus. They knew God better than the majority of the people, they were the connection between God and the children of Israel as they assisted their father, Aaron. Unfortunately, they succumbed to their own insights and perished. But the loss of the sons was not the end of the people. God created a new connection to the people. He created a way of renewing the relationship between the people and God. This could have been seen as insignificant, but this is the beginning of how God showed us how to reconnect with us in the midst of our losses, failures and inadequacies.
The loss of anyone is always hard. The loss of children is unimaginable and unfathomable. But in the midst of this heartache, God still finds a way to connect us and create a space where we’re not alone. The diagnosis of an illness or disease seems to isolate us. The loss of a child isolates us from the very people that we still have and love. But when we allow God to work in us, and work with us He will show us that we are not alone. Aaron was not alone in his suffering or his renewal. The first family at Give Kids The World, GKTW, was not alone in their sufferings. We are not alone in our suffering, God has placed others in our lives to give us support in all that we do, all we have to do is listen and sometimes look up.
*The above photo is a collection of stars from the children that have visited the GKTW. This is a tower that is part of the castle , there are over 170,000 stars here. Each week there are more multiplied. Ruby’s was added this week. www.gktw.org