Yesterday was a day of heartbreak, not just for all of the families who lost loved ones, but for those of us who grieved with them. However, instead of these losses bringing people together, we find ourselves leveraged apart by those who are for or against gun control, and the extreme religious right, who warn that God is punishing us. Personally, I don’t believe in a God who would maim and kill innocent children because of the recent uptick in states that allow same sex marriage, but that’s just me.
Whenever anything so atrocious happens within a culture, people are wired to seek meaning in the act. Always, there is the question of how can God let bad things happen to good people? My belief is that God doesn’t let bad things happen; people do bad things to other people. It’s called free will.
The minister at a church I attended with my ex-husband explained it best, right after 9/11 happened. He said that God is not there to eliminate the darkness, but to illuminate it. God isn’t there to give us some kind of cosmic spanking when we do something wrong, but exists to help us through the aftermath.
It’s times like these that I reach once again for my David Wilcox playlist, particularly a song called, “Show The Way.”
You say you see no hope, you say you see no reason we should dream
that the world would ever change. You’re saying love is foolish to believe
’cause there’ll always be some crazy with an army or a knife
to wake you from your day dream, put the fear back in your life…
Look, if someone wrote a play just to glorify what’s stronger than hate,
would they not arrange the stage to look as if the hero came too late?
He’s almost in defeat, it’s looking like the evil side will win,
so on the edge of every seat, from the moment that the whole thing begins…
It is love who makes the mortar, and it’s love who stacked these stones,
And it’s love who made the stage here although it looks like we’re alone
In this scene set in shadows, like the night is here to stay
There is evil cast around us, but it’s love that wrote the play…
For in this darkness love can show the way.
Even for the more secular among us, it helps to remember that without the dark, there can be no light, no pleasure without pain, no love without hate. As one of my fb friends posted yesterday, for whatever odd reason when she dropped her daughter off at school that morning, she held her back in the car a few extra seconds just to tell her how much she loved her and how proud she was of her. By the end of the day, even though she was thousands of miles from Connecticut, she felt that if anything had happened to her or her daughter, she was so glad that her daughter would at least know that she was loved. I know there were many mornings I’d take my kids to school, irritated at the what to wear hassle, or that someone forgot their homework, or the other one forgot their lunch. I think we can all agree that we would never want the last words our children hear from our mouths be, “Get out of the damned car,” and yet that is exactly how much I took their safety for granted.
Although we cannot control the actions of others, we can control our own actions. We can’t keep our children tucked away in safe little boxes their entire lives, but we can let them know that we love them and are proud of them. In our family, for as long as we’ve had cell phones, we’ve had a phone ritual of ending each call with, “I love you, bye.” It’s said all together in a rush, like one word, almost as an afterthought, as if it is meaningless, but it is not. It is our tiny way of making sure that the last words the other person hears from us is, “I love you.”
As our country and individual families grieve and heal, at the very least, take away the lesson that life can be incredibly short, and you may not get another chance to hug, kiss, cuddle, read another bedtime story, or say I love you. Let this not be a lesson of God’s punishment, but one of God’s love, a reminder to not take life for granted.