Friday, December 14, 2012

there is no health in us

note from me:

this is for Sandy Hook, on this day, three years later.

somehow little has changed. after this post, my father wrote me an email for what would be his last. 'one of your best' he wrote. 'from your biggest fan'.. .though i miss him terribly, i am glad he has not been here to witness the worst in this world.

i have been making rolls today, Pandora Christmas music in the background, and i had little time for checking facebook. but when i did, the posts were about prayers for the children, a school shooting, and so i turned on the news.

as i kneaded and stirred, rolled a cut, the unimaginable unfolded in front of me. babies dead in their kindergarten classroom, their teacher and principal too. from a lone boy, really, who somehow thought it was the right thing at that moment to keep these little bitties from seeing what Santa brought this year. or any year.

i wept as the spokesman for law enforcement told what little they knew. the rolls would wait, as i sat captured by still images. a mother screaming into her phone. a line of terrified children walking with their teacher to safety. school? this can't possibly have happened, just like it could not have happened earlier this week, a shooter walking into Macy's as if he needed to pick up a new toaster for someone in the family and not pick off a couple of shoppers for whatever the hell reason that was in his mind.

babies. i thought of the itty bitties in my own life who run up to me after a day in preschool and give me the giantest of hugs. and their mothers. those mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers big and small who have learned something particularly horrible about the world today. and how no step they take will ever be the same. and about those terrified children who watched all of this happening. how in the world will their parents let them go back to school ever again?

i grew up in a town where gun racks were the fall ornament of choice on the back window of pickups for the boys in my class. they never thought about taking the guns off the racks when they went to school, because not one of them would ever have imagined taking a gun to another human being. i know it's shocking that teenagers would be toting guns to school, but it was the country and the 70s and though we didn't have guns in my house, most every boy i knew did, and they used them for hunting. my own son hunts on weekends in fall and winter, having already shot the quail he will grill for us for Christmas Eve. i am not against people owning guns for sport, but when does gunning down dozens of movie-goers or kindergartners or mall shoppers or even someone who has bullied the hell out of you qualify as sport?

when i was in sixth grade, some of the girls in my school decided i was worth picking on. they made my life hell, and by seventh grade, the boys were throwing flies in my hair when the teacher wasn't looking. i grew into an insecure teen who thought the whole world was out to get her, but not once did i ever want to do anything stronger than scream at these girls. and i never once imagined any one of them would have physically harmed me in any way, though they surely did a whack job on my emotions.

i think about that, and i think about how when my daughter was in the first grade, we opened a new school just across the way, and the one thing i wanted her most to learn was how to treat other people.  i still remember what she wore that first day, her bright eyes marveling at the brand new desks and books and newly sharpened pencils. her new backpack. today i think about all that new and how safe our world was then, way back in the 90s. and i don't know what to say.

this week two young boys in my town were charged as adults in the murder of a 15-year-old. the shooter was 13. he and his 15-year-old brother (a father himself) were driving in a van with two other teens (girls) and gunned down a boy on the sidewalk who happened to say the wrong word. when i read that news i could think only of one question: where was their mother? and then today, there is a young man who knew exactly where his mother was and chose to end her life. his mother. who home schooled him because he couldn't get along well with other children.

when did these behaviors become if not commonplace almost not surprising? and not shocking enough for the world to stand up and say enough! when are we going to say we are mad as hell and we are not going to take one more five-year-old — whose injuries should be no worse than a skinned knee from falling wearing her new roller skates —gunned down in front of her classmates just because she is there? 

when? maybe that day is today.

the time has finally, finally come. 

my daughter calls from NYC, and she is walking home from a day spent in her new office that flanks Times Square. but we spend most of our time talking not about her new digs but about how this world has changed so. her husband's coworker lives in Newtown, though her children don't go Sandy Hook. someone else connected to them does have children who attend, but they took a vacation day today. thanks be to God.

how can they ever go back to school, mom? says this almost 29-year-old sounding so much like the little girl she once was. i don't know. school should be safe. church should be safe. home should be safe. so should the mall and the movie theatre. but all have been proven to be battlegrounds in this new world we are living in.

and so my friends and i have been praying, for these mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters who most likely can't feel the strong arms of God wrap around them right now. i think about that, too. where in the world are you God? though i know in the next few days stories will unfold that will show me right where God has been even in the middle of this unspeakable tragedy.

tonight between reports of this horrible news, commercial breaks show shoppers filling carts with toys, people trying to get the best deal on their cellphone coverage, families sitting down to hot-baked pies at their Christmas dinner tables. somewhere Bobby Flay is planning a throwdown. i learned today from the radio that new legislation promises that no longer will those commercials be louder than the television shows they sponsor. i'm grateful i won't have to turn down the tv during Homeland but honestly? is there not something we are missing?

the lights on my tree scatter their twinkles around my living room that is not yet decorated fully. and 20 pans of rolls sit stacked high and waiting for the folks on my list.

and 20 little bitty children are dead. 

and there is no health in us.

Almighty and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against Thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us.
But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare Thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore Thou those who are penitent; According to Thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for His sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of Thy holy Name. Amen.*

*the book of common prayer

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