Today I went out into public after work for the first time since Friday. I needed to pick up a prescription and get some food. Since it was late, I decided to go to Stew Leonards, normally a happy place that is filled with music and large puppets that entertain the children. As I got out of the car in the dark, I noticed that the rain had started again. The sun broke through for an hour or two this afternoon, but even the sun didn’t shine so brightly today. Something felt different, people’s faces were somber, and their steps lumbered. I saw a young child run through an aisle and I wanted to reach out to her. I looked at her mother and hoped that she hugged her baby tightly today. I wondered how many times our Sandy Hook babies walked through this very same store, skipping and singing.
Nothing is the same. We are changed. We are wounded deeply. We are violated. Our hearts have been ripped apart.
There’s a cloud over Newtown. It’s not going to go away anytime soon. We weep…..we grieve…..we pray…..
We must love, love like we’ve never loved before. Love our families, love our friends, love ourselves, and love our enemies. It is only love that can absorb the pain. It is only love that can absorb the sorrow. It is only love that can eventually heal. And, it is only love that can stop this evil.
I haven’t been posting lately…..this blog is both a blessing and sometimes, if I am honest, a burden. I don’t even know if anyone is following anymore, but I felt the urge to write tonight because maybe it will help me to process this terrible tragedy that occurred just a few miles from my own home.
The last time I saw the field that the news crews are occupying 24 hours a day was when I was sitting on the sidelines watching my son play soccer there. The last time I was in Newtown was to buy a delicious cake at a small market there in the center of town. The last time I was at St. Rose Church was to visit my friend who works in the religious ed. office. The last time I was in Sandy Hook was to dine at a quaint little restaurant there. And….the last time I saw a second grade student who attends Sandy Hook Elementary School was this past Sunday when her mom told me that she really isn’t talking much, but has drawn some pictures of guns.
Yesterday I had to teach about 160 students in grades 4-6 and then about 60 8th graders later in the evening. At first I thought that I wouldn’t address any of this, being conscious of the fact that each family deals with their children in their own way. But then, I thought…..let the children speak….where other than Church should this be discussed? I told my catechists that if it came up in the classroom to keep it brief, discuss free will and always bring it back to the faith. We have no answers, never will in this lifetime, but as a community of love and faith, we can find some comfort and solace in the Lord who is in the midst of it all.
The younger ones didn’t want to really speak about it…..at the end of the classes we formed a large circle of ‘love’ and said a prayer to send to our friends in the next town over. The 8th graders wanted to talk a bit more. We discussed our own responsibilities and that in every action there is a choice – a choice to build up or to tear down. Not one of our students asked why ‘God did this’ – I pray it is because they understand and trust that God doesn’t do this, I’d like to think it is!
So, where do we go from here? Our Youth Minister who lives in Sandy Hook asked me today, “Don’t you think that this is being covered just a little bit differently than the other tragedies? Don’t you think that there is more talk of faith?” Oh, I pray that there is…..Jesus said, ‘Let the little children lead…’ Maybe we can let these children lead us back to our core, to the only thing that makes any sense in the midst of this horrific event. We are the children of a great and loving God, a God who suffers with us, a God who is present to us, with us and in us. A God who came to this earth out of this unconditional love so that we can be united in every way. A God who shares our grief, compassion, our tears and our sorrow.
We know…..we read it in Scripture…….”Jesus Wept”