In August 1993 a team of Syrian and Japanese archeologists excavated the almost full skeletal remains of a two-year-old child, found in the Dederiyeh Cave, 400 miles north of Damascus. She lived during the Middle Paleolithic era, 200,000 to 40,000 B.C. We do not know the cause of her death, nor her name, but her burial evidences the care of someone, perhaps her parents.

Last week an official scooped up the remains of a two-year old Syrian boy, found face down on the sands near Bodrum, Turkey. His red shirt, blue shorts, and tiny shoes with Velcro straps evidenced his Mother’s care. We do know his name, as does the global community—Aylan Kurdi—and the circumstances that ended his short life.

The stories of these toddlers witness their innocence and plunge us into silence.

We also grieve other Syrian children, down through the ages, caught upon swords of monstrous conquerors ravaging their land and strewing it with temples, palaces, and fortresses.

But we also honor Syrian children who transmuted suffering and hardship and later authored mystical works that illumined Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Their vision still enriches us. Of special interest are the Didache (Greek for teachings), the secret gospel of Thomas, and the gospel of John, all composed during the first century A.D.

Certainly today’s mayhem cries out for fresh mystics to assuage our fears and enlarge our worlds with peace that “the world cannot give.”