I don't always address major news stories on this blog, because I see this as a mostly light-hearted "life blog", and I figure we all get inundated with bad news in so many other arenas. We all need a break from that sometimes, you know?
But I'm having an extremely difficult time (as I'm certain you all are as well) dealing with this school shooting in Connecticut. Friday morning and early afternoon I was blissfully knitting away at my friend Stacy's house for our group Christmas party. I was surrounded by support and love. We were talking about what a particularly wonderful week it had been for our group, with lots of laughs and good times. We ate, we drank, we exchanged gifts, we listened to Christmas music.
Then I got home and heard what had happened. I felt numb and weepy for the rest of the day. I couldn't put on the news. I dreaded seeing the newspaper the next morning. But I had to find out more about it eventually, so I read. And I go between crying at the drop of a hat to being so angry. I knew, I just KNEW that the shooter would have committed suicide. He can't just kill himself, he has to shatter the lives and families of dozens of other people.
And the fact of the matter is that all of us want to live long happy lives, right? Nowadays, I think that anybody that passes away before the age of 90 is very young. :) I tend to think of myself at age 37 as still very young. But children? There is something so much deeper, so much more primal, in our love and protection of them. And somebody killing 6 and 7 year old babies is beyond comprehension. Do I want somebody to kill and/or torture me? Of course not. But I would rather that in a heartbeat before something happening to a child. The loss of a child for a parent is unspeakable. Time may make that wound somewhat less paralyzing, but nothing will ever fill that void. Nothing.
Part of it is because children are innately so loving and innocent. And you can't help it, when you see another parent lose their child, you think to yourself, "that could be me. That could be my child." And you grieve for them to the very depths of your soul. Henry is the exact age of some of the children that died.
One of the articles that I read this weekend recounted a teacher shepherding her flock into the class bathroom and locking them all inside. The children were scared and crying. One of them said:
"I just want Christmas. I want us all to be ok and just go home and have Christmas."
I lost it and broke down sobbing. The pure innocence of that statement, the simple childhood joy of Christmas. He didn't want his short life snuffed out without enjoying the day he looked forward to all year. That's what childhood is all about, memories of meaningful events and family get-togethers like we do at Christmas. I don't know about you, but I don't remember much about my day-to-day life as a child. But I remember Christmas. I have tons of memories of different Christmases throughout the years.
I keep crying about this and I don't know when I'll ever be able to stop. I woke up at 4 am this morning and thought about those tiny, precious lives and worried over their last moments.
Friday night, as I was driving home from dance practice, I stopped for a red light next to a Catholic church. Right next to my car was their glass enclosed, life sized nativity scene. All of the figures were bent so lovingly over the Child, their faces filled with beautiful detail of their amazed joy. It gave my grieving heart a few moments of peace.
Sunday, I was on duty for Children's Liturgy of the Word. And wouldn't you know it, I got a huge crowd, including one little girl that I could tell from the outset was going to be a challenge. Not only that, but I had forgotten my preparation sheet at home, so I was totally improvising. And you know, it WAS a challenge, but I was up for it, and it went really, really well. I clued in fairly quickly that the challenging little girl wasn't simply misbehaving. There was definitely a deeper behavioral issue going on. So, instead of feeling annoyed and overwhelmed, I showered her with as much loving attention as I could. She was definitely distracting to the other kids, but sometimes that's just the way it is. I think that she got something out of the session, but more importantly, *I* got something very important from her. Children are not always going to listen, or behave, or generally do what we'd like them to do. But they are *always* a blessing to us, we sometimes just have to listen to them more closely to determine what they need and what God is trying to teach us through them.
When I finished up, I told the little girl that I had a job for her, that I needed her help passing out the weekly worksheets. She sprang into action:
"Oh! Yes, I'll take half."
That just warmed my heart. And she passed them out like a champ, not even keeping one for herself.
I learned a lot from her on Sunday.
I have other things that I can share with you from my weekend, more normal, everyday things. But I won't share them today. Today I'm working to come to a peace within myself about what happened, trying to figure out how I can pray more and be a better parent to my beautiful children. I have a chaplet of the 7 Sorrows of Mary that I just looked up how to pray and I'm going to pray that later.
It's still Advent. And we're still waiting with expectant joy for the coming of our Savior.