found! not lost blog

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver

Light in the darkness

Last Friday’s tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School cast a surreal, melancholy haze over Christmas.  Like many other parents I know, the reaction my husband and I had to this massacre was visceral and unrelenting.  When we learned of how many kids were lost, and of just how young they were, I looked at my husband and asked, “What is happening? The world is going crazy.”  The more details that emerge, the more photos and stories of the six- and seven-year-old babies that were killed, the harder it gets to reconcile with reality. This actually happened.  This evil exists.

We are all grieving.  Though most of us do not know the families in Newtown, Connecticut, the children are bringing us together – because though the victims are strangers, this feels deeply personal.  We have our own  first graders and it is impossible to look at them and not remember the littlest victims who were gunned down less than a week ago.  When I see my oldest with her other first grade friends on the bus, when I read her notes full of hearts, stars, and sweetness, and when I hear my daughters goofing off together, their innocent and unknowing laughter sometimes makes tears spring to my eyes. The kids are probably wondering what’s going on because I can’t seem to stop hugging them or telling them I love them — we’re a pretty affectionate bunch, but I feel an almost compulsive urge to hold my babies lately.

The girls had their Christmas programs at church last Sunday.  When the first graders filed onto the risers, my own little angel included, I again had to reach for a tissue.  The tears were of joy and gratitude for my kids, but also of sorrow thinking of a church somewhere in Newtown where Christmas programs were canceled, and wondering what it would feel like for our town if almost half the kids on stage were no longer with us.  When they sang their final song, Silent Night, I had to blink back the tears.  When sung by children, it is so peaceful and moving, and (because of my own family’s Christmas traditions and Christian faith) I felt comforted hearing it.

Lauren program{our church Christmas program, my little angel is there with her class}

It’s our family’s favorite time of year, Christmas.  With all of its anticipation, gatherings of friends and family, indulgent meals and sweet treats, and yes, the surprises under the tree.  But this year we’ll try more than usual to reflect on and teach our kids about the non-secular reason for Christmas.  Because we need to believe in something when the world feels utterly upside down. We need the light to help us find our way out of the darkness, and that is exactly what was given to us on Christmas Day.

The Winchester Cathedral Choir singing Silent Night:

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This entry was posted on December 19, 2012 by in kids/family, personal and tagged , , , , .
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