a housewife with four children decided that Hydrogen Bombs were
not a political issue at all, but simply a clear choice between
Good and Evil. She thought that if a man was trying to make the
world a safer place for every woman's child by stopping tests on
these dangerous bombs, that man would make a very splendid President,
and deserved her vote. But perhaps just voting was not enough. Even
a housewife might do a little more. So she would write and call
and appeal to other women, her friends and their friends, and as
many mothers as could be reached, and try to make the ones who had
been too busy to think about it realize how the "abomination of
desolation" Jesus foretold In the Twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew's
gospel might happen in our own country. Perhaps she could make them
hear what Our Lord's terrible words describing the waste land made
her hear: The lost children crying in the ruins of the world.
vote is not just politics and slogans", wrote the woman tn her friends.
"When matters of Life and Death and Truth and Untruth are at stake,
a vote could be a sort of prayer..."
The woman wrote till her eyes ached and her
head ached and the kitchen table was covered with paper like fallen
leaves. Suddenly she was so tired she started to cry and thought;
"'What can I do - all by myself? What's the use? Who will hear
just then the children came romping in from school with great squeals
and laughter and tossed all the Halloween things they had made at
school that morning onto the littered table, and shouted "Look Mother,
look at mine!" All together, very noisily. They were quite deafening
and now the table was really a mess. There were hats, witches, broken
cookies, candy wrappers and sacks for trick or treat decorated in
crayon with fearsome apparitions, bats, taily dragons and horny
mother was too distraught by the interruption to admire the trinkets,
and sharply sent her children outdoors to play. In a weary mood
she began to fix supper. She felt futile and inadequate and unimportant.
Who was she anyway? What was she trying to do? Perhaps she should
mind her own business. Perhaps we all should. She stared stupidly
at the table that must be cleared for supper and at the children's
Halloween nonsense strewn all over her muddled and messy attempts
to change the world.
the picture cleared. She had the feeling that dawn brings after
a long night's watching, that familiar music brings to a weary heart,
a golden light around the edges of the mind. The paper goblins and
carefully colored pumpkins, became so sharply etched, and so clearly
alive that they were the only really important things on the table.
They had been made by her children's hands, and the absurd, fragile
toys had suddenly become symbols of immeasurably big and precious
things. They spoke for the joy and trust and innocence of all children
since time began. They shamed the tarnished adult world, those paper
witches, those scrawly dragons and spooks. "The chalk fell off the
ghosts," the Middle Boy had said, with starry eyes, "so Teacher
let us use paint"..... Paint-happy eyes.... "What I'm trying to
do isn't useless," said the mother firmly. "Someone will hear, someone
will surely understand".
And so she wrote this story in the middle of
the night, while the children slept too soundly after their Halloween
party to interrupt her.