CHAIN OF HOPE

As a small postscript to yesterday’s post SILENT EVIDENCE, let me share another chain story.

Our little family traveled to France soon after 9/11. We’d made the arrangements long before the terrorist attacks, and though it was frightening flying overseas less than two weeks later, I’m glad we went.

It was a difficult trip in many ways. It’s hard to remember now, but it seemed like there was a good chance we could be caught far from home if the United States declared war–and that was daunting. Til I convinced my husband with the argument that we’d all be together, in Paris, with credit cards. Where was the downside in that?

Since we were so close, we visited friends who live in Brussels, Pierre and Benedicte.

Benedicte’s father had been a doctor, and following in his footsteps, she had gone into nursing. Now she worked with a French non-profit that provided medical care to impoverished or war-torn countries. I can’t remember the exact name, but from her description, I believe it may have been this group called La Chaine de l’Espoir.

The reason this stuck in my mind, and what reminded me of it again today is her translation of the group’s name.

Benedicte spoke excellent English, but she groped for the right words. “It is hard, but in English, it is literally ‘chain of hope'”, she explained. “But that word is not good, because in English, ‘chain’ usually means…” and here she gestured, in a way that still moves me to tears, to show her hands bound. “…like ‘handcuffs?'” she suggested.

“Manacles?” I suggested.

“Yes! But this chain is a good word, because…” and here is where I cry, remembering her struggle to get just the right nuance, and again, watching her hands form links, then joining, and rejoining, in the air. “…this is what links us, one by one, to each other, no matter where we are. It is hope, these links.”

That is the chain I want to be a part of.

Does the chain save everyone? No.

Can it be broken? Oh, yes. Easily.

But it is still our best, and most powerful gift we can give to others.