I NEVER get sick. Never.
And so – on the weekend we were going to Florida for Christmas with the Hewitts and to watch Jordan in her dance recital – I could not believe it when I woke up Friday morning with a sore throat, headache and fever.
A few hours later I watched Ted pull out of our driveway with the truck loaded down with Christmas gifts, leaving depressed me and two ecstatically happy pooches (no kennel for them this weekend) to spend the weekend pouting about fickle fate. Ted suggested waiting until Saturday to leave, but who knew if I’d be better or worse the next day. If I was worse (which I was), Ted would have missed a whole day with the kids, and I still wouldn’t be able to go.
Knowing me as well as I know me, I would have eventually worked myself up into a pretty horrific case of “Poor Me Syndrome” – if the day had played out as I thought it would. I would have lounged on the sun room couch, my lap covered by a blanket and Maddie, my fleecy-socks-covered feet propped up on Bear as he lay sprawled against the couch. I would have sipped my lemon water, popped Coricidin and aspirin, and dozed off several times. And that’s what I did most of the morning.
As I stood in the kitchen throwing together my lunch of berries and yogurt (I reasoned the cold combination would feel good to my throat), I clicked on the TV, thinking I’d find a Christmas music channel. Instead, as I listened and watched in speechless horror, I saw what many others had already been seeing for several hours . . . the unspeakable tragedy that unfolded on Friday in the small, picturesque community of Newtown, Connecticut.
I am still speechless. I find myself only able to watch and listen in very short pockets of time. It’s just too horrible, too sad, too maddening, too . . . . evil to imagine, much less to know that it really happened.
Twenty beautiful little children and six adults walked into a school yesterday morning with the rest of their friends and colleagues, their minds full of everyday thoughts. The children were probably thinking of the fun day ahead and that school would soon be closing for Christmas break. They might have thought of their Santa Claus letters, the school Christmas program the night before, the special gift they were making or would buy for their Mamas and Daddies. The adults could have been thinking of lesson plans, whether their Christmas shopping was done, what they were having for dinner that night. All ordinary, mundane, everyday musings . . . but for those twenty-six souls, it would be last morning their minds would contemplate worldly thoughts.
Praying yesterday, last night, and this morning for the victims and their families and for the entire community of Newtown offered a little peace, but my mind remained mired and without real comfort.
And then I found this photo, posted on Facebook from the Trust in the Lord web site, and I was . . .
And then this morning I found this prayer, written today in the Huffington Post by one of my favorite Christian authors, Max Lucado:
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas.
But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.
Thank you Mr. Lucado for saying so beautifully and honestly and precisely the words I could not find. Heal us. Help us. Be born anew in us.
And all God’s children say “Amen”.