A good friend and former co-worker of mine lost his 20-year-old son three years ago. I am ashamed to say how long it took me to email him, to say that I’d heard, that I was so sorry. When I finally did, I apologized profusely, and told him that I’d been delayed by the weight of the situation, by the fear of saying the wrong thing. He was gracious, of course, because that’s the kind of man he is, but I know that my silence was the exact wrong thing I was so afraid of.
After Friday’s events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I have that same feeling. I don’t know the residents of Newtown personally, or the parents of those sweet children, or the husbands/families/friends of those brave teachers, but just the same, I don’t want to wait a year before I say that I heard. That I’m so sorry. That I am 3,000 miles away and it is not just a headline. My heart is broken. My life is changed.
The morning after, I woke up early, before my two-year-old, even, which doesn’t happen often. My mind immediately went to those parents. My house was quiet because I’m pregnant and I can’t sleep anymore. Their houses are quiet because their children are absent. I laid in bed and shed tears over what that must feel like, over that morning-after moment when they woke up and realized it wasn’t all a bad dream.
On Twitter over the weekend, I saw a British person (only one, mind you) complaining at how much the BBC was covering the Newtown tragedy. He wanted to know if it was really necessary, and “how much [Britons] were really affected.”
This isn’t Newtown’s crisis. It isn’t even America’s crisis. It belongs to this world, to this human race.
This place is broken, and though I don’t think I’ll ever not be shocked by crimes like this, I’ll never truly be shocked by our brokenness.
It was broken all along, and things like the untimely death of a friend’s young son, like the massacre of 26 people, like our quickness to point fingers and blame you and you and you and everyone but myself – they are a reminder that the Kingdom is here but not yet. That we live in the tension between beauty and sorrow, between the now and the waiting.
I realize I haven’t given any answers here, and it wasn’t my intention to. Only to break my silence, so that you, and they, know that I heard, and that I’m so sorry.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult…”
Some people who have kind and courageous words for this time:
Rachel Held Evans