Monday, December 17, 2012

Tragedy at Newtown, CT

What a shock the massacre at the elementary school was-is! I received the graphic above on Facebook last night--a beautiful reminder that each person has a name and leaves an empty space here on this earth and grieving loved ones.
I recently heard the song "Some Nights", the recurring line is "What do you stand for?"  It has a great driving beat, but the rest of the lyrics don't stand out like this line--What do you stand for?  It is clear what Dawn Hochstrung (principal) and Mary Sherlach (school psychologists) stood for as they charged the gunman.  They sacrificed their own lives to save those of the children.  The other adults in the building also acted heroically to lock-down their classrooms, tuck their students away best they could, and soothe them until the "good guys" arrived.  As we know some of them lost their lives doing this.
Last night, I listened to President Obama's speech at the ecumenical prayer service.  There is one phrase that really stood out for me "you are not alone."  There is nothing anyone can do to erase what happened, no way to bring their loved ones back.  However, the huge out-pouring of love some how helps.  Those in mourning know they are not alone in their suffering.  We stand with them in their pain and do what we can.
I think of the times when I have been in the midst of personal suffering and/or mourning.  There wasn't anything others could do to "fix" the situation, but knowing they were there for me and I wasn't alone in it helped a great deal.  Recently, the mother (age 62 living in Africa) of an African priest here in the US died suddenly--on his birthday actually.  He asked some people to come be with him--don't talk he told them just sit with me.  The power of caring presence!
It is a good reminder of how to effectively reach out to those in need. Do I just try to fix things? Or am I willing to hang out with someone else's pain?
I was listening to NPR on the way to work this morning.  When I turned it on they were in the midst of reading the names of the adults who were killed in Newton on Friday and this was followed by a minute or so of soft music.  As I listened to the names the announcer said #7 and said a name.  I said to myself, "I thought there were just 6.  Did someone else die from their injuries?"  After the name was spoken it was followed by, "mother of the gunman" or something like that.  It stopped me in my mental tracks.  Of course there were 7 adults.  So, for the graphic pictured above, I would like to add Nancy.
Then there is the issue of Adam Lanza...what a horrific act he committed!  Imagine the suffering left with the rest of his family.  Whatever possessed him in a mental and/or spiritual way?  Was there mental healthcare available to him? Who knows if anyone could reach him at all.  What I do know is that he must have been in great mental torment to do something so horrendous which would have been even worse if he had his way and the police hadn't arrived so quickly. 
So, "what do you stand for?" as the song goes.  I stand for and with those suffering, which in this case would be everyone involved.  I stand for efforts to limit the possibility of violence.  I stand for the power of presence.  I stand for wrapping ourselves and the needs of others in prayer.  I stand for the availability of mental healthcare.  I stand for compassion.  I stand in gratitude for the faculty/staff of Sandy Hook Elemtary School who held nothing back to protect the children.  I stand for loving the survivors into a strong and healthy future.  What do you stand for?
A prayer by Fr. Bob Stone, CM
O God, a loud cry is heard
--not in Ramah where Rachel bewailed her young-- but throughout our United States of America as we have suffered with the people of Newtown, CT, over the senseless deaths of twenty children and six adults. We join the families of teachers and students alike as they mourn and cry out to God, hoping that He will hear them.

With the hope of Christians we trust that You have welcomed each one of them into their eternal home--the children met at the gates by the Holy Innocents, and the adults greeted on their arrival by the martyrs who protected their brothers and sisters from the hand of violence. We pray, O Lord, that you help us find a way to convince our fellow citizens to stop the multiplying of firearms.

We beseech You, God of mercy, to pour Your Holy Spirit upon governments and schools, to continue to protect the powerless and the defenseless. We ask you, Lord, to calm the fears of families whose children leave home each day for their education, and whose adults work in public areas.

We thank, God of all that is good, for Your grace which helped teachers and first responders to save so many lives, and which inspired so many ministers, counselors, and professionals to lend a helping hand to those who mourn.

In these days before we celebrate the birth of Jesus, may the dead sleep in heavenly peace, those who mourn hear tidings of comfort and joy, and all Christians pray:
"O come to us, abide with us, our God Emmanuel."
In Jesus' name. Amen.


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