Rejected and Abandoned by Esquivel from

Let me tell you the story of Ruby.
The story comes from the work of the distinguished child psychiatrist and author Robert Coles (The Moral Life of Children. Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1986).
Coles worked for a time in Biloxi, Mississippi in the 1950s. This was at the time of integration, when the government was setting out to integrate black children into “white” schools—a move that was met, in many areas of the country, with much fear and its partner, anger. Coles went to Biloxi to provide support for black children who lived in the middle of this social crisis. The first black child to help desegregate her public school in Biloxi was Ruby. Coles met her during his time in Biloxi.
Coles would observe Ruby arriving at school each day to the sight of a crowd of protesters—Federal Marshals clearing a pathway for her through the angry crowd. He observed her each day arriving at school to the hostile sound of racial slurs and personal threats.
Dr. Coles wondered about the effect this hatred would have on Ruby, wondered how she could handle it. As a psychiatrist, he wondered if she was having trouble eating, sleeping and carrying on her normal routine. The first day he interviewed her he asked, “Ruby, how are you sleeping?” She replied, “I’m sleeping just fine.” Later, he would ask: “Then I bet you aren’t eating too well are you?” And Ruby would answer, “I’m eating just fine.” And he would wonder. At the next meeting he would ask her again: “How are you sleeping?” “Just fine, thanks.” And again, “How are you eating these days?” “Good, thanks.” And so it went.
Then, one day, Ruby’s teacher mentioned to Coles that when she watched Ruby making her way through the mob in the morning, it seemed to her that Ruby was, “talking to herself.” What could this mean? In Coles’ next meeting with Ruby, he asked her about what she was saying to herself as she walked through that angry crowd each morning. “I say,” she answered quietly, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”
As people of faith, we know, of course, that Ruby’s words came from the Gospel. From the cross, Jesus looked down at those gathered round—neighbors who knew him but were against him, strangers who misunderstood his purpose, friends who could have stood up for him but did not—and quietly said: “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” Ruby must have known the story. Someone, somewhere must have taken the time to teach it to her. And it had turned into a story that would give her the strength to eat and sleep and live through such an unimaginable crisis in such a young life.
I wonder how the story of Ruby strikes you on this day. Is about the importance of hearing the Word and deeply treasuring the stories of Jesus in our lives? Is it about taking time in busy schedules to teach these life-giving stories to coming generations?
I wonder. This month, I leave you the story of Ruby.

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