Gloucester, Massachusetts is a fishing town. It is one of the oldest settlements in what became Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Through the years, life in this fishing town has not been easy. The town has seen more than its share of loss and pain, of lives disrupted. The fishing industry would rise and fall like the tide, one year providing a living wage, the next year leaving a family with barely any money. Storms would take fishermen when they were too young, leaving young widows with small children to make their way alone.
The ocean, beautiful to tourists and residents alike, cannot be tamed or controlled. It is master over fishermen and their families.
Along the waterfront on Stacy Boulevard is a statue called the Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial, paying tribute to all those who died at sea. It was built in 1925 and is famous throughout the area.
But the statue I love best has not been there for very long. It is a statue a few yards away from the Fishermen’s statue. The statue shows a woman looking out to the sea and pays tribute to those left behind: The wives and children of fishermen. I love the strength of the statue. I love how the woman is carrying one child, while another holds onto her dress, a gesture that women around the world understand. I love everything about this statue.
Most of all, I love that it honors these women and children, recognizing that the sacrifice of families is great.
Yesterday, as we passed the statue, I thought of all the women and children who are refugees or displaced because of the war in Syria. I thought of the many women that I met in Iraq, the stories I have heard that are barely a page in the volumes of stories that are present from the Syrian war and the disruption of family and community by ISIS. I thought of the women and children I have met who teach me what it is to be strong.
The statue is a symbol of the strength of women, of grief being pushed aside as they move forward with stubborn endurance.
Today I think of these women and children – and I thank God for their strength and pray for grace to move forward.
See A Practical Response to the Syrian Crisis for ideas of how to help.