Perhaps this isn't a time for words.
Perhaps this is only a time for silent prayer, for the families and all of those affected by random evil and deadly bullets. Words of strangers cannot fill the void left by the loss of a child or family member. While research has proven that the prayers of people unknown to cancer patients has a positive effect, I wonder if the prayers of our nation and the world will have a positive impact on the families enduring the tragedy in Connecticut. I think about being one person in a world of many who suffer, and it seems impossible that anything I do or say would have an impact or change a single thing.
But I'm going to keep praying anyway.
I spent yesterday in a happily ignorant state, not having turned on the television or the computer. It was a "ninja mission" day. Elliot's mission was to shop for toys for children experiencing homelessness. While the unspeakable act was happening, I was standing in an aisle in Walmart while Elliot carefully worked out his decision. He was frustrated by the price of toys, commenting on the fact that some of the items were "fake" Lego, or cheaply made junk. He wanted to give something really, really good, and I was feeling emotional thinking about how seriously he was taking this responsibility. I watched him push little buttons on action figures, take some items off the shelf, check prices and ask questions. He fully understood that his choice would affect a child's Christmas morning.
In the end, he chose two folding scooters, thinking about the hours of play he enjoyed on his own scooter. When we arrived at the IRC building (a day center for people experiencing homelessness), a man with white hair approached us in the parking lot, beaming a smile, carrying a plate of baked goods. He addressed Elliot and said "Thank you so much for coming here today and bringing toys for the children!" (Was this man the REAL Santa in street clothes? He introduced himself as "Skip" but he was jolly, a little round, and wearing red.)
Inside the building, we were surprised to see that the walls had been freshly painted a beautiful shade of calming green. As Elliot explained to the receptionist that he was bringing gifts for children "ages five to 12", he received more warm greetings and gratitude. On this visit, both of us felt a little less intimidated and more comfortable. Repeated exposure grants the gift of familiarity. We recognized faces and understood the atmosphere a little better.
On the ride home, we resumed a discussion about fear. Elliot said that he no longer feels afraid at the sight of a homeless person, because he is helping. Giving has equipped him with a path to courage.
I don't have any answers when it comes to the occurrence of violent rampages in our nation or terrorism in this world. I am often afraid, and left a good job in the heart of a dangerous neighborhood because of my fear. So it is incredibly important to me that I am able to share the truth of my fears to my child, but in such a way that he understands the importance of hope, and how to take action in the face of fear.
Individually we are one, together we are many. Today my action is to pray with the many.
Dear God, take this world into your loving hands. We need you more than ever.