Will There Be Joy Again?

We are in the Advent Season. We are supposed to be anticipating, with hearts full of excitement and hope, the coming of this Precious Child called Emmanuel, Wonderful Counselor, and Prince of Peace.  But after this weekend our hearts are filled with tears, pain, anger and grief.

joyI was sitting in the hospital Friday, providing prayer and support for two friends who were grieving their own losses, losses built up by their anticipation of what was to come for them.  As we sat together, we heard more and more about the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.   What in the world happened?  As I prayed for my friends, I also prayed for Sandy Hook and thought, there are too many angels in Heaven tonight.

I was angry all night and into the next day.  How in the world could someone kill 20 children, their teachers and their principal?  I imagined the scene that the first responders had to face when they walked in the classrooms.  I imagined the sounds the surviving children heard throughout the day.  My heart and head were screaming at the sight and sounds and I wasn’t even there.    I can’t imagine what any of them are going through and will have to go through in the days, weeks and years ahead.  I hurt for them and with them.

I am not nearly as angry anymore, just deeply sad.  I am sad for the families who are preparing funerals rather than Christmas Morning celebrations.  I am sad for Sandy Hook Elementary School and the thoughts that come at the very mention of her name.  I am sad for the children who survived and will never hear a firework with awe or look at their first years of school with great memories ever again. I am sad for the teachers who will never want to teach again because of the trauma they endured. I am sad for this small town and what December 14, 2012 will mean for them.  I am sad for the parents who won’t know what to tell their children when they ask why did this happen. I am sad for every child, parent and teacher who will be too afraid to go to school on Monday. I am sad for the family of the shooter who have to face the world with judgment and scrutiny, even as they are grieving as well.  And something tells me they are judging themselves as much as the world is.  I am sad for the nation when we can’t agree on ways to tackle gun violence, strengthen background checks, and increase assistance in the area of mental illness.

What angers me is hearing people say that this happened because God was taken out of the schools.  How in the world can someone say and believe that this happened because “God was taken out of the public schools”?  Is that the god you believe in?  Do you believe in a god that would have 20 children and their teachers killed to get even with us?  Really?   You now leave children with the image that God killed their best friends and not the man who did the shooting.  You leave all people with the image that God is a judgmental God who in order to make a point, will kill the very people we are supposed to be like.    You leave children with the idea that since we don’t recite a prayer at the beginning of class, God turns into this evil man and goes around killing innocent children.  That’s the god you believe in?  Your god is not my God and I can imagine is not the God those 20 children and standing with right now. Your god is not the God surrounding the families in tears, prayer, love and sadness.  God is there, crying along with the families, hurting and wondering how to give them what they need to feel in comfort and do enough that they can actually feel it.  God is there with them, sending people and prayers to a community that is wondering how in the world are they going to heal from this.

Today I went to church in pain and tears.  How in the world are we going to “celebrate” this Sunday of Joy in the midst of such tragedy?   Come to find out, maybe today wasn’t the day to share “joy” as the candle could not be lit.  My friend Jim Somerville can explain this better than I can.  What I did feel was a small sense of peace.  Two children were dedicated today by their beautiful Christian parents and family.  The Youth Choir shared their voice in such a heartfelt way.  Prayers were lifted up publicly and privately, full of grace and love.  I sat there throughout the service knowing that at this particular hour most Christian churches were lighting the Candle of Joy and praying for Newtown.  I also thought about my Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish and other interfaith friends and colleagues who were lifting up the State of Connecticut in thoughts, in prayers, in heart, mind and spirit.  I knew that however they prayed, however they worshiped, or however they centered their hearts and minds; people of all faiths and understandings were lifting up this community in love. I felt a sense of peace knowing that maybe the community of Sandy Hook Elementary School and Newtown, Connecticut felt that God and 20 precious children are surrounding them in prayer, in love, in tears and in spirit.  It’s not enough, but maybe it’s a start to a time when we will feel joy again, when they will feel joy again.

As we anticipate the arrival of the Christ Child this Advent Season, let us remember 26 IMG_5332other precious children who are holding the hands of God on this day:

  • Charlotte Bacon 02/22/06
  • Daniel Barden 09/25/05
  • Rachel DaVino 07/17/83
  • Olivia Engel 07/18/06
  • Josephine Gay 12/11/05
  • Ana M. Marquez-Greene 04/04/06
  • Dylan Hockley 03/08/06
  • Dawn Hochsprung 06/28/65
  • Madeleine F. Hsu 07/10/06
  • Catherine V. Hubbard 06/08/06
  • Chase Kowalski 10/31/05
  • Jesse Lewis 06/30/06
  • James Mattioli 03/22/06
  • Grace McDonnell 11/04/05
  • Anne Marie Murphy 07/25/60
  • Emilie Parker 05/12/06
  • Jack Pinto 05/06/06
  • Noah Pozner 11/20/06
  • Caroline Previdi 09/07/06
  • Jessica Rekos 05/10/06
  • Avielle Richman 10/17/06
  • Lauren Russeau 06/82
  • Mary Sherlach 02/11/56
  • Victoria Soto 01/04/85
  • Benjamin Wheeler 09/12/06
  • Allison N. Wyatt 07/03/06
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One Response to Will There Be Joy Again?

  1. Ron Smith says:

    Luke 18:16 (NIV) says that Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” This evening twenty little souls are resting safely in the arms of that same Jesus and, as hard as it may be for their parents to absorb this thought at the present time, the parents can rest assured that their little children will never face harm again. Hopefully, at some point that thought will bring some comfort to their grieving hearts.

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