Since Friday, when I received an email from a friend letting me know that there had been another major shooting at a school in Connecticut, I haven’t been able to turn on the news. I know without hearing the details that those parents are now living the “what if” nightmare that keeps those of us with kids sleepless and anxious. I understand without seeing their stricken faces that part of their hearts died along with their children.
I haven’t watched the coverage of the shooting, because I, like everyone else, am already staggering under the weight of despair, fear, and anger–overwhelmed by the images of Hurricane Sandy devastating the East Coast, an uncertain economic future, and an election so fraught with hate that it left our country in tatters. I knew this final blow, this horrendous school shooting just before the holidays, would bring me to my knees. That my spirit would be wiped clean of hope.
And I decided last Friday that I simply refused to let that happen.
I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Mother Nature, the holy dollar, politicians, or a gunman take away my hope. Without hope you cannot get back up on your feet again. And if the rest of us don’t stay on our feet despite the weight, who’s going to pull up those who have been felled?
So I am holding on to hope in my own way: encircling those parents in Connecticut, along with the rest of us, in a prayer for solace and grace; practicing small and frequent acts of love so they will spread outward and strengthen everyone; and holding tightly to my belief that there is no weapon more powerful than good.
Perhaps these gestures are naive and idealistic, and maybe holding on to hope is a futile effort, but in the past several days, I’ve decided I do not care. I am not going to give in or give up. I’d rather reach towards hope than be mired by helplessness. I’d rather fill my heart with faith in what is possible than burn my throat shouting in the face of malevolence.
I am going to stay on my feet. And I am going to do what I can to shine a steady light in the growing darkness. I want to keep hope, love, and goodness burning brightly so those of us who are fearful, heartbroken, and plundered by tragedy have somewhere to warm ourselves again.