I really wasn't planning on writing about what happened yesterday. But I am, most likely because I've been doing a lot of reflecting, and sometimes it's helpful to further process those seeds of thought by putting words on a page. Even when they add little value to anyone but me.
Suffice it to say that I was, like all of you, positively devastated to return from our jovial homeschool-group Advent party to discover the news coming out of Connecticut.
There are just no words to describe the horror. No words at all.
So for me yesterday was a really strange dichotomy--going about my regular business of feeding and caring for my children, while processing through the awful events that left one town, and many hearts, broken. Meanwhile my kids, who are blissfully naive and don't know anything out-of-the-ordinary happened, had their usual day of playing and arguing and laughing and doing chores. Oblivious to what the rest of the nation was feeling.
The one thought I returned to throughout the day (because honestly, I could scarcely think of much else) was that there is, without question, pure evil at work in the world--and every once in awhile it breaks out into the open and shows its ugly face. And when I say evil, I don't mean a generalized or impersonal type of force. I mean Satan himself, and his hate for God, and his hate for God's children. I mean his desire to destruct and destroy.
And yet it's a kind of paradox, because even amidst the CNN photos of fearful children being evacuated and of adults crying in the parking lot, there were the photos of burly police officers tenderly holding wee little hands. There are the stories of brave teachers sacrificing their own lives to save young students. There is the fact that even if these dear childrens' souls have left earth, love for them lives on, as do their souls themselves.
It's a paradox precisely because the truth is that love always wins. Because God always wins. And just like the word evil is not some vague concept floating around the cosmos, neither is the idea of love. It is personal and real, manifest in a God who loves His children and the world He made. God always has the final word, and even in the darkest of moments He is somehow present and working. Even when it seems impossible.
I cannot imagine what the many parents and loved ones of the deceased students, teachers and administrators are experiencing, nor can I even begin to comprehend the difficult road ahead for the first responders and survivors. I have no words or answers--which would literally be nothing but trite noise coming from me--for these dear people. So I will simply offer up my prayers, and mourn with those who mourn.
And I will continue going about my own infinitesimally small duties, like loving my husband and my kids, and trusting in the hope that Jesus will one day set all things right. And even in the meantime evil will never have the last word, ever. No human being can completely destroy what God has made, and what God loves.
I believe I also have the responsibility to be extra thankful for--and humbled by--the beauty and good I do see all around me: like our Advent celebration yesterday amidst dear friends, and for our own brand of normal that looks more like crazy sometimes, and for my daughters' weekly girls' group at our parish that they attended last night, led by dear consecrated religious women. And for the fact that we have the Eucharist, and that Jesus is really present all around the world, at all times. Good amidst evil. Hope in brokenness. Love itself.
My girls came home from their group last night with brand-new, specially designed t-shirts. They were jumping up and down, beyond excited, and couldn't wait to show me. As I ohhhed and ahhhhed over the shirts in between dishing up bowls of soup for dinner, I was struck by how timely and true the message on the back is. "Only saints will change the world." And my heart flooded with hope. Because no matter what is happening around us, whether in good times or bad, we are called to sainthood. To the long road of following Jesus and perservering to the end, whenever that may be. Tragedies and hate and pain cannot have the last word--and quite frankly, they are not worthy of it. And so even as our hearts break and tears fall, we must also commit to press on and not grow weary, continuing to cultivate and embrace the virtues of charity, hope, and faith. Putting one foot in front of the other. It is really all we can do.
And it is what our desperately hurting world needs.
Holy Innocents, pray for us.
And may God bless and keep all those affected by yesterday's events.