What a difference a day makes. Yesterday’s war on lunch milk seems frivolous after this morning’s tragedy in Newtown, CT. If Ethan (who did report drinking white milk today) had asked me for a case of Fanta after school, I would have probably relented and thrown in a couple boxes of Hostess Ho Ho’s.
This morning was very wet and cloudy here in Albuquerque as if foreshadowing an unusual occurrence in the normal dry and sunny pattern. At one point while I was driving around town running errands, I was again blessed by the beautiful scenery here. The sky was totally blanketed by thick, continuous cloud cover. Looking west on the horizon though there was a small clearing from the ground to just above the mountains in the far distance past the volcanos and petroglyphs. That small exposed area was bright and clearly illuminated by an unseen sun. Had I not been driving, I would have snapped a picture but could only resort to a brief meditation on the stunning beauty.
I did not read about the Sandy Hook School shooting until after I had brought Connor home from preschool. Like many of you, it broke my heart as I prayed for the families and community whose lives were horribly affected and will never be the same. In the midst of such unthinkable violence and grief, our hope for mankind is shaken. That’s why I felt compelled to share the insight and wisdom of Mr. (Fred) Rogers:
”When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
Picking up Ethan from school has never been so emotional. It was all I could do to hold back the tears as I made my routine drive into the nearby church parking lot. Walking to the school while seeing children leaving and going through the entrance, my mind could not help but imagine what it would be like to have such a tragedy hit Georgia O’Keeffe School where my son attends. It made the events read online play out more concretely as I walked through children and parents in an elementary school setting to find my elder beloved son. The extraordinary event made the ordinary eerily unsettling.
I noticed the Albuquerque Police SUV driving through that church parking lot and eventually parking in front of the school. I saw the police officer watching the crowds disperse. He is not usually there but his presence was appreciated. In fragile states of vulnerability, every small thing is meaningful. Like when Connor requested affection, “Mama, can I snuggle buggle with you?” Or when Ethan (the opposite of snuggly Connor) indulged me an extra long hug without a hint of trying to squirm away. “Who loves you, Ethan?” “You do.” “How much?” “Very much.”
When tragedy strikes, we mourn with strangers. We lift them up in prayer though they will never know our names. We redeem the senseless evil in whatever small ways we can. There was one murderer of innocent children in Newtown. There were millions responding with support and empathy. There are abuses of power in police forces everywhere. There was one guardian officer providing comfort at our school today. There was a blanket of clouds covering the entire sky this morning. There was a bright clearing that reminded me of the sun’s persistence. Evil is real and its work is undeniably painful. It rips through us and leaves us aching and wounded. Its power though strong is not Almighty. There is Victory over evil. There is hope in madness. There is Love that overcomes the darkest of nights. Whenever I see evidence of this unbeatable Force, I am comforted. And I do see God in so many things. My children. Nature. You. As our nation joins Newtown in unspeakable sadness, the ways we choose to demonstrate this Love will help heal us all. Albuquerque had a rainy, cloudy morning. But it is a place of Sun. It reminds me of this Love’s reign.