Monday, December 17, 2012

Newtown, Connecticut

I've been a bit quiet this weekend as far as the blog goes. 

I, like I imagine most of you were, was glued to the tv and the internet sites, looking for updates on the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of so many.  As the death toll numbers climbed higher, my heart sank lower.

As the names and ages, the pictures and the stories emerged, the tears started.  I wish I could say they have ended, but they haven't.

I was privileged to hear Tim speak on the tragedy in church on Sunday.  Privileged because he had written a different sermon.  He decided less than an hour before bed on Saturday evening that he would speak on the shooting instead.  He didn't write the sermon- he opened his mouth on Sunday and the beautiful words just came out.

He answered the question we all ask- Where was God?

God was with the custodian who ran down the hall calling warnings, with the person in the office who turned on the intercom to alert the classrooms to trouble.  He was with the principal and the school psychologist as they ran towards the shooter, not away.  He was there with the teachers who hid their children in bathrooms and closets, with the teacher who reached into a hallway to pull a child to safety as bullets flew past and with the teachers who used their bodies to shield their students.  He was with the children themselves, as they followed instructions, as they watched out for each other- as one child said "It's ok, I know karate.  I'll lead the way out."  He was with everyone who chose to preserve, to build, to help that day.

Tim told us something else important- this was not God's Will.  People will try to justify it by saying God had a plan and it was for these children to die. God needed the children more than we did.  Others will say God killed the children and wonder how a loving God could do such a thing.

God didn't kill these babies and these educators. We have the opportunity to build and we have the opportunity to destroy, through the free will that God grants us.  A person killed these children.  A person who made a terrible decision.  Noah, one of the little boys killed, had a twin sister who lived because of the decisions her teacher made. 

We can't change the events that unfolded in Newtown.  We can't say the words that will magically take the pain out of the hearts of every person there- and in people across the country and the world.  There are no words to say.   Maybe one day Noah's sister, shaped by the events of today, will do something incredible in honor of the brother she won't get to grow up with.  Maybe those of us who are blessed in that we aren't experiencing this tragedy from such a personal level will hold our loved ones tighter, tell them we love them more often.

The lasting memorial of these children and teachers is Love.  Love harder, love stronger, love more often.  Love those around us who need it, whether they are our relations.  When we rise out of the ashes with love, we take a step forward, a step closer to a better world.


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