Monday, December 17, 2012

Peace on Earth?

My soul has been rocked.

I don’t think a news story (including 9/11) has hit me as powerfully as the tragedies in Connecticut last Friday. Too much evil. Too much innocence. It’s hard for me to fully comprehend what happened that day.

I think perspective is what makes this unbearable. If I step back and look at it with the wide-angle lens, it’s a terrible thing, to be sure, but it’s possible to move on.

But if I look at it from the eyes of those parents searching but not finding their kids in the crowd, or those first-responders who walked into the eerily quiet kindergarten classroom, or those teachers and staff members who heard the shots and saw the fear in their students (and themselves), it’s more than I can take. Way more. And tears flow freely.

I have a 6-year-old Kindergartner, too. Rilla.

She is my bright burst of sunshine after a long day at work; she’s always first to give me a hug and a bigger-than-life smile. She loves to sing and knows the words to songs better than I do.

Her little glasses are always filthy. Her upper lip usually has a line of milk, chocolate, jelly (she doesn’t like peanut butter on her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), or Kool-Aid. She doesn’t put away her shoes. Ever.

But her soul is always clean. She is full of love and forgiveness. She is pure.

She wants to be a princess. All she wants for Christmas is an “Ariel dress.” She has a Princess Kate picture book that I got her from London…it’s her prized possession.  

She is observant and smart, even if she doesn’t always reach the most accurate conclusions. Last night she told me matter-of-factly that “all the white horses are girls.”

I love my Rilla-Roo.

And thankfully, she is safe. I will see her tonight as we have our weekly family home evening. But there are 20 families who can’t say that, and others still who have lost a parent, a sibling, or a spouse in this horrific tragedy.

Each of them has lost a precious member of the family, and that hole can never be filled again in this life. So what now? How do any of us move on from the images and feelings seared into our consciousness?

I don’t know. But how about this for starters:

We hug our children a little more often. We take that walk to the park, knowing full well that getting the 2 year old off the slide to come home will be an epic battle. We stick together. We keep praying.

Perhaps the world has never been darker, more filled with hate than it is right now. You can say we are in the midst of a cold, dark winter. But somewhere, there is a manger holding the Hope of the World. He has come, and we must seek Him out in these tragic hours.


That’s the only way we’ll be able to do this. Whatever your faith, whatever your beliefs, we must rise up as one and find a light in this dark world. I cringe to think of the heated debates that will likely follow this tragedy. They’ve already begun. Let’s not do that. Fight for change? Yes. Vilify each other as a political strategy? No.

Let’s watch out for each other. Care for each other. Listen to each other. Protect each other. Serve each other. That’s the only way right will prevail.

My wife Melody remembered a verse of a favorite Christmas carol in the midst of the breaking news and breaking hearts on Friday. It fits perfectly.

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

I’m ringing my bell, can you hear it? Probably not. But if we all ring them together, well…that's a song that can change the world.  

I can think of 20 little angels that are singing along right now in heaven. Rilla is singing, too. And so are your innocent children. Listen and you will hear them. Instead of drowning out their voices, let them be heard.

May we all find peace on earth this Christmas – somehow.