Monday, December 17, 2012

Loud and Deep

I honestly do not know how to write about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday. When the story first broke, I followed it closely on the internet, watching live reports and President Obama's first response. But as the news piled in, it became more than I could take. As a parent and grandparent, I just can't get my head around it. I certainly can't get my heart around it.

So I stopped watching. And I stopped reading. I want to pray, but I can't. I just don't know what to pray for. Yes, I could pray for the loved ones of the children and teachers lost - for their comfort, for their peace, for their release from pain - and I did that in the beginning.

But as the reality of those little lives and the lives of their teachers sank in, those prayers didn't seem to cover it. Briefly, very briefly, I tried to put myself in the place of the parents who lost their babies. Too, too painful, if you go beyond the surface. I had to back off. So prayers about comfort and peace can't begin cover it. I'm struggling with that. And so, my friends of faith, please do not inundate me with prayer suggestions. Whatever's working for you - great. Keep doin' it. As for me, I must find a way to get back to a prayer-place on my own.

That said, I am fed up with people saying that the reason this happened is that God has been taken out of schools. Really? Oh, ye of little faith. I believe that God is everywhere, even in the midst of Sandy Hook last Friday morning. If you choose to believe that God is not present within our secular society, perhaps you need to re-examine your own faith. Prayer in schools has not been outlawed. If you believe, pray. If you don't believe, don't pray. I choose to believe that God was right there with the children and their teachers.

I will find a way to work through this, knowing I can never make sense of it. One thing I can pray for is that my country finds a way to stop or slow down this madness. We have so many gifts to offer a hurting world, but we continue to set the worst example imaginable when these mass killings take place with such regularity. Yeah, I can pray for that.

One of my favorite Christmas carols was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the middle of the Civil War. I suggest you read the original poem for yourself, because some folks have found it necessary to re-write some of the verses to suit their own views. But two of the original verses strike home to me right now:

And in despair I bowed my head; 
"There is no peace on earth," I said; 
    "For hate is strong, 
    And mocks the song 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!" 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; 
    The Wrong shall fail, 
    The Right prevail, 
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Now, there's another something I can pray for. May God have mercy.


amy wall said...

Thanks Mary! You said what I have been feeling so beautifully. Missed seeing you Sunday. Love you.

MaryB said...

Missed you, too, Amy. Merry Christmas to all the Walls!