I’m writing this reflection just before Christmas, and it will e-mail on the 27th.  I hope all of you had a safe and blessed Christmas.  And now we look forward to celebrating Epiphany! May the Lord reveal himself in that mystery ever greater, under that magnificent starlight.  

I wasn’t prepared to have my Advent so disturbed before it began.  On the morning of Nov. 18th, I was watching a news story on the Today Show.  It dug deeply into the mining of Mica. Mica is a precious mineral that is a thermo conductor, meaning, it has the ability to transfer heat without overheating.  It’s a beautiful, shiny mineral in slate like sheets. Did you know that in a single car, there are about 50,000 parts that contain mica?

The story took me to Madagascar, off the coast of Africa.  An aerial view showed the cratered landscape of the mica mines, 50 foot deep holes.  The temperature on the ground was over 100 degrees. Hotter down below. And to my horror, the people doing the mining were….young children!  

There isn’t time here to tell you all the sickening details of the life these children live every day.  They never go to school. They work alongside their mothers and siblings for only enough money to eat, and a very poor diet at that.  Please look up this story for yourself. 

The demand for mica is insatiable.  It’s literally in almost every modern convenience you can think of.  And, there is no end in sight for the growing demand. The mica isn’t the problem really.  The problem is exploitation, corruption and greed from the mine to the pipeline of production, the miners never seeing just wages. 

Exploitation of children is not a new story.  It’s a very old and terrible one. But isn’t exploitation of the poor one of the things Christ came into this world to make us see and put an end to?  We are His Hands and Feet now. I’ve been unable to unsee this story, because, these children are under the same Star as I am. I want to help, but how?

O Father, help us all to stop this injustice the starlight reveals.  Amen.

As is my custom, I have expressed myself in a painting about a Star.