Around five in the evening on Sunday, I happened to look across the kitchen to our sliding glass door– which was perfectly framing a magnificent sunset.
“Reilly,” I called as she sat playing at the kitchen table, “look at that pretty sunset!”
She turned and approached the glass, marveling at all the colors.
Look, Mom! There’s pink and orange and blue… and a little purple too.
Her eyes were wide with wonder. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” I asked.
She smiled and nodded. Then turned back to the table and proceeded to document the moment in bold Crayola strokes. The silhouette of a mountain, embraced by a breathtaking riot of color.
Handing it to me with both hands, she smiled at me sweetly.
Here, Mom, this is for you.
And she turned back to the glass to admire the sky once more.
I stood, watching her.
Her silhouette now being embraced by those same colors she had replicated with her best six-year-old effort.
My sweet little first grader.
And the tears, they come again, as I think of a town where the sun has already set.
A town where several parents no longer have little first grade silhouettes, no six-year-old giggles outlining their evenings.
A silent night.
I have shed a lot of tears for Newtown, Connecticut.
I imagine that there will be many more still to come.
My breath catches and my heart stops every time I let the emotion of those twenty-six victims at Sandy Hook Elementary wash over me.
The parents in anguish, the frightened children, the grieving community.
No. Not community– nation. Aren’t we all grieving alongside one another?
The pain has been intense.
Yet even in despair, there can be peace. I have felt it wrap around me and comfort my soul several times over the last few days, as the God who weeps (see John 11) succors His children.
I find strength in all of the good people that are still out there in the world, giving themselves to the service of others.
“The helpers,” as Fred Rogers called them:
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.
To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers– so many caring people in this world.
This is what I tried to teach my children this week as I held them a little tighter, a little longer.
There may be terrible evil in this world, but guess what? In the big picture, love wins. Every time.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.
God bless Newtown.
God bless us all.