Marie Case Crain
Sunday, First Week of Advent: Hope
November 30, 2014
Light the Candle of Hope
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up”
Psalms 27:10 KJV
While reading the book “Orphan Train West” by Jane Peart, my heart remembered how the children felt when they were placed on view within churches, hoping to find homes where they truly belonged. Most of the more than 100,000 children were not orphans but were abandoned, transported across the country by train from 1890 until 1939. Children transferred from temporary to permanent, to no father, no mother, no home, they had nothing left but hope. Matthew Scott and his young wife Anna, started the “Christian Rescuers and Providers Society” in hope of providing homes for these children, that would nourish them and love them. The train traveled from town to town going to churches where the church planned a kind of Orphan’s Train Day, preparing a meal and giving the prospective adoptive parents time to meet the children and then the children selected would go home with the new parents, while the rest of the children would get back on the train and go to the next designated town. Always hoping that tomorrow would be the day of that “happily ever after.”
I have personal knowledge of these happenings as my aunt, my mother’s sister, belonged to a church where these children were often on display. She selected a girl almost my own age as the child she would take home to become part of our family circle. She proved to fit in well and on another day as the children came to be selected there was a boy that was chosen to become a part of my extended family. The children kept coming and my aunt’s heart kept bothering her as to their plight, as my mother and my aunt had lost their mother at a young age they identified with the children’s hope for a home with love. Although my aunt felt she had almost reached her limit of being able to help the children, they brought this beautiful little blond girl about four years old, and my cousin fell in love with her at first sight, begging my aunt, her mother, to choose her. When she hesitated, my cousin began to cry and beg her mother to choose this little girl, and so on that day she became my third cousin from the orphan train to enter our hearts.
None of these three children were orphans but were placed in overcrowded children’s homes, and in later life reached out to their blood families. This did not work out well and they have lived their entire lives as members of our extended families. The older girl and the boy have both died now, but the youngest girl is now living in Florida and is in close touch with my cousin who she likes to say “cried for her.” She married a pastor and has been a witness for the Lord.
The faces of these children, eyes filled with hope that they would be chosen, abandoned or orphaned, they were individuals, each different, separate, with hearts and minds and souls of their own, searching for a place to belong.
Marie Case Crain