I feel the need to address the elephant in the room. I know this is bold because many people are already tired of hearing people’s opinions on the recent tragedy, but I feel that I have to put my voice out there.
This past Friday I awoke from my post final celebration slumber in a haze of exhilaration, happiness, fatigue. I went about my day, went and helped (kinda) a friend with her last paper, and was blindsided (as I assume everyone was) by the events at Newtown, CT. All those positive feelings fled my being and were replaced by…emptiness. I could not feel a thing; I can’t put it into words then and I can’t now. I tried to post something to Facebook that would be reassuring or helpful, but the words were just not there. I instead posted an article on how to talk about the tragedy with your children, see it here. I am humbled and grateful that my boss was able to put together a coherent, thoughtful, and theologically sound response later in the day. I obviously have much to learn on my journey.
For a much better response to what was said in wake of the shooting, visit here. It was written by a DoC minister in New York and I thought it helpful.
By Sunday, I was still reeling with my emotions in wake of the shooting. See, it was the Sunday of Joy in the Advent calendar. The Sunday with the pink candle (for an explanation for that see here. This Catholic blog does a wonderful job explaining the why). I did not have much joy in my heart this past Sunday, and I was having to offer a communion meditation. So, I turned to a book entitled The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran who has a wonderful idea of both sorrow and joy:
“Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow. And he answered: Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be?…When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your hear, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” – The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, p. 29.
This passage spoke to me. Not in a “I can find joy out of this situation,” way because I don’t think that any joy can be found in the needless killing of twenty young children and six persons committed to the education of those children. I can find no joy in this. What I can find joy in is that there is the hope that the “birth” of Christ Jesus provides (I put birth in quotations because Jesus was not born on Dec. 25th).
Jesus was born into a world very similar to this one in a lot of ways. Of course there wasn’t the use of electricity, cars, airplanes, twitter, blogspot, etc., but there was sin in that world. People were self-involved then and they continue to be just as self-involved now. I have previously said that I think individualism is the original sin, see that post here, and Jesus was born into a world that had the problem of individualism just like this one. But there in lies my hope…Jesus was born, regardless of how the world; or maybe better put, born in spite of the world around him. Jesus transmitted his message in a cruel and sinful world, a message that is hopefully being heard even this day (I do my best to be faithful to that message in my proclamation). Jesus gave hope to his followers that a day will come when the sins of the wider culture will be no more and all people will be one with God.
I have hope and joy that the kin-dom of God is possible and even attainable even though things like the Newtown shooting happen. To quote my boss, Alan Lobaugh, “I pray for the dawning of that new day, when we will move from the darkness and chaos of these events into God’s marvelous new light.”