On Sunday morning, I looked for reasons to avoid going to meeting, even though it’s something my family does every week. I needed to go Christmas shopping, I told myself. I should take the kids to my mother’s instead.
The truth was, I was seeking distraction. I was mad, and angry, and terribly sad about Friday’s events. Usually, my Sunday meeting ritual makes me feel better and uplifted, no matter what’s on my mind. But now that the most terrible thing had happened in Connecticut, I didn’t know what sitting quietly in a room could possibly do. It wouldn’t protect me or my children from a mass murderer. What good is God, I wondered, when something like this occurs?
I went anyway. My daughter stayed with my husband and slept, and my son and I entered the meetinghouse, where the kids were starting to sit for the First-day lesson. I listened as their teacher told them about what it was like for the shepherds when they heard that Jesus was born; how the angels came to them, how they were scared.
When I left to sit silently, I thought about the story of Christmas day. Ever since I had children, I have sought opportunities to be more faithful, and when my daughter was born three years ago, not so long before Christmas, I finally found my way in to the story of Jesus’s birth, past the wooden nativity sets that pop up around my neighborhood in November. I know now that Jesus’s birth is a story that helps us celebrate the birth of every child—quiet and warmth, the hope and love and light that comes with each new baby, each new day.
But where is light in this darkness?
I thought about the loneliness Mary and Joseph must have felt that night, seeking refuge and being constantly turned away. How hopeless they must have been, to see only coldness in people who should have been friends.
But they had a baby with them. A baby who was the son of God.
It was then that my chest started to take on the familiar pound, which told me this was a message I needed to speak. Mary and Joseph were okay. Even more than okay, actually. Blessed. Because God was with them.
God is with us, too.
The loneliness and sadness and fear of this life can be overwhelming, but it’s a comfort to remember we are not alone.
God cannot prevent people from doing the worst possible things, but God is with us. God comes in the tears of every parent who cried on Friday for that unbearable loss, in the people who marched and held vigils, in the sight of our president finally vowing to do something about gun massacres. God is with every person whose heart still breaks when they think of this tragedy. And God is with those families who grieve, even if they can’t feel it yet.
There is so much darkness in this life, and more every day. What matters is that we try to find even the tiniest hint of light—enough for us to see.
You are in that light, Sandy Hook. We will hold you there, and never forget.
Image: “30-March-2012” by reway2000 via Flickr using a Creative Commons license.