I cried Friday, as I listened to the news reports of what happened at Shady Hook Elementary School. I cried again as I read the list of the victims, twenty children and seven adults were published. I cried again listening to Christmas hymns, “Silent Night. Holy Night…Love’s pure light.”
When I picked my daughter up Friday afternoon, she ran to me, excitedly waving two envelopes. “Here Mama. I made this for you during playtime.”
“For me? Wow!” I looked at the white envelope, with what looked like our address scrawled on the front, completed by a small, green “stamp” in the upper right corner. I carefully opened the envelope and pulled out the note. On green construction paper it read “I ♥ U Mom”. I got down on my knees and gave her the biggest hug. “Thank you. This is so wonderful. I was feeling a little sad; I choked back more tears. Her love’s pure light had touched me so.”
Her eyes lit up and she bounced across the room to get her things and head home.
While we went home, and my daughter plotted how to surprise her daddy with his note, eighteen small bodies lay on the floor and two more in a hospital morgue. Police photographed the victims so that their parents could identify their bodies. Meanwhile parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents grieve at Christmastime for the child they will never hug again. Siblings will alternately feel excited about Christmas, guilty for surviving, and devastated at the loss of a brother or sister. Crime scene investigators will go to the school in the following the days to collect evidence, take pictures. The coroner will collect the bodies and determine how many gunshots and which ones killed each victim. And someone will scrub the blood from the floors and the walls.
When my daughter and I said the Lord’s Prayer at bedtime Friday, I choked on the line “as we forgive those who trespass against us”. It’s the only thing in the Lord’s Prayer that the petitioner is asked to do. When we petition God to give us our daily bread, we are not promising to make sure those in need around us have their daily bread. When we petition God to lead us from temptation, we are not also promising to keep those we love on the straight and narrow. No. We seem to do those things without being asked. Instead the only thing God asks of us is to forgive. Frankly, it’s the one thing I was loath to do on Friday. It’s the one thing that I will be loath to do for a very long time. But hate doesn’t bring me peace or comfort.
Perhaps that is why the Lord’s Prayer exhorts us to forgive others, because God knows that there is no peace in vengeance.
So I look to the children and I ask what can I do to make the world a better place for them, a place where they will know mostly peace and comfort and joy?
Meanwhile, I’m just too sad to hate or argue.
© 2012 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.