Monday, December 17, 2012
The morning after Elsie was born a nurse's assistant came into our room. The sun had just peeked over the horizon, and we were groggy and tired as she introduced herself. Then she asked if we had heard about the shooting at the movie theater in Colorado. And then she went on to tell us all about it.
It was too late to tell her to stop talking. And all day long people brought it up. I had no idea where to put this information. It made me want to throw up. It made me want to cry. It made me unable to sleep that night, watching the cars out on France Avenue waiting at the stoplight, some turning left, some going straight. I was afraid. I was tender. And that night as I held my tiny little baby who had just turned twenty four hours old, I tried to process the greatest joy of new life sharing the same world with the darkest evil. And I wept a lot.
In the early morning I watched the traffic pick up on France Avenue. It was a work day and the road was congested and full of people going to a job to earn money for their family, to care for the people they love. I watched the cars back up at a red light, speed through at a green light. Looking at the amount of cars made me remember that there are millions of decent men and women trying to do good in the world. And there are psychopaths too.
I remember asking Rory what I was supposed to do with the news of a boy filled with evil, entering a movie theater aiming at helpless human beings.
Later I would answer that question for myself: I don't think we are supposed to know everything that happens in the world. I don't know that we are wired to handle every heartache, every terror, every tragedy. That's God's job. That day in the hospital, my job was to welcome my little girl to the earth. My job was to swaddle her, tend to her cries and hold her close for comfort. My job wasn't to carry the darkness and demons in Colorado.
The news on Friday of another psychopath entering an elementary school in Connecticut brought me to the same, helpless, dark place. What do you do with this news? I wanted to throw up. I wanted to scream. I wanted to be very quiet.
But Ivar has been speaking some good words into my life this month. He's been piercing the darkness with his favorite part our of Christmas tree. On the very top we have a little angel. I'll catch him looking at her, and we'll talk about angels. So he knows what an angel says. And he reminds me all throughout the day. Angel says, "Fear Not! Good News! Great Joy!"
He says it loud and staccato. Sort of in a rough, deep voice. It's adorable. Better than adorable, it's true.
It's the best thing he could say to his mama who wants to hug him tighter, keep him in my lap longer and never let him out of my sight.
On Sunday I told Rory I didn't want to put our kids in the nursery during church. I was afraid. I was scared to let them out of my arms. This is unlike me. I'm usually rational, and can see the bigger picture. But I couldn't do it on Sunday. So we stayed close as a family.
We sat in church as a foursome, quieting our boy with cheerios and cookies, when a woman from the local crisis pregnancy center stood and spoke to the congregation about the work they are doing in our area and the needs they have for community involvement.
A surprise was waiting for her though. All month the church had been planning it. Money was collected, and everyone brought in brand new baby gear from Target. Four pack-n-plays rolled out before the director of this crisis pregnancy center filled with diapers, wipes, toys, baby baths, shampoo, bottles, formula, and sippy cups. And then strollers, car seats, exosaucers and high chairs filled the space in front of her. A check for $2,000 was presented and the woman was in tears. It was spectacular.
I've been thinking about the joy in that moment, the whole congregation giddy for the surprise we had for her, excited to be a part of something good, excited to give, serve, dig deep into our pockets and for a small one-year-old church, give generously. So generously.
I've been thinking about this moment and how good it felt to get involved. To participate. The news out in Connecticut leaves me feeling helpless. Our church in mission on Sunday left me feeling hopeful.
Light permeates the darkness. Everytime.
And that's the posture I want to be found in. Arms wide open, heart wide open. Ready to give. Ready to love and serve. No matter the evil and terror in the world. I have nothing to fear. My God is with me. And he brings Good News of Great Joy.
The whole thing fell apart when Adam and Eve wanted to know everything like God knows everything. But that's too much for us to carry. God begs for us to let him carry the load. His burden is light.
This world is not our true home. Don't you feel that? It's so obvious when we see evil so clearly. Our true home is waiting for us in Heaven, and we're all invited. The tiny baby who came to save the world invites us all to call him Lord of our life, and to live in the calming knowledge that our eternal home is our true home. That's Good News. Until then we are called to love and care for one another. That's Great Joy.
For more reading:
These two posts helped me as I continue to process all of this:
Lisa Jo wrote raw words here.
And my preacher friend Meta wrote a beautiful piece here.