I woke up at 4:20 a.m. hearing my answering machine beeping.
It was a Benton County caseworker looking for emergency shelter for some displaced children.
Maybe it was just one child.
Maybe an infant.
Maybe it was a group of siblings, playing in the department office trying to appear like they weren't concerned.
Or maybe they were all sitting on hard chairs crying their eyes out.
The call came in at 12:28 a.m., while I was blissfully asleep in my big comfortable bed hearing the first serious rain of the season falling on the trees outside my window.
Are they still there- in the office waiting for me to respond, or for somebody?
Did these kids get pulled out of bed and taken by the police from their home? Were they at a party with a parent? a bar? on the street?
Was there shouting, and cursing, when they left what was comfortable to them?
Are the children bruised? hungry?
Did they leave their favorite toy, blanket, or pet?
Is there a teen-ager in the group that can't believe that this has happened to him again?
This is catastrophic, the most horrible nightmare, a total disaster!
It's 6 a.m. when I finally decide to return the call.
I stumbled through the message. I told them "no".
I told them I was praying that they had found a home for them. This time it's not ours.
I've said yes before, but now it's no.
Whomever says, "yes" to these children, I say, "thank-you".
All I can say to God, in words, is, "they are children, Lord".