Friday, December 21, 2012

My most unpopular blog post ever

Today, our country will mark a moment of silence for 'the 26 victims' of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I will join with thousands or maybe millions of others to honor and mourn the loss of these precious lives, but my prayers will be for more than the 26.

I will pray for the families and friends of the deceased. No doubt they are paralyzed right now, filled with grief beyond understanding. Somehow, they must find a way to breathe and move and live their lives again. That's a journey which will take many years and much love and support and prayer.

I will pray for the children and faculty who survived the tragedy, those who heard and saw things which defy words. Their innocence has been stolen, and the stain of these events on their dreams may be permanent. They need years of counseling and understanding and love and prayer in order to learn to trust again. I pray they each find a safe haven somewhere in our troubled world.

Here's the unpopular part. I will pray for the 28 lives lost. Yes, I will include the shooter and his mother in my prayers. We may never know the depths of their despair, the anguish and isolation which burdened a family until a young man broke and took so many lives. But the shooter and his mother are God's children too, and they now stand before Him. May He have mercy on their souls as He does on the souls of the school's children and faculty.

And may He also have mercy on us for our part in a system so broken, a society so warped, that persons with mental health problems fail to get the help they need. I will pray that, with God's grace, my own interactions with people will lighten burdens and spread ripples of goodness and truth and hope, today and every day.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

-St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mr. Rogers and heroes

A day after this week's horror in Connecticut, several Facebook friends posted this quote from Fred Rogers

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

The quote resonated to my core.
The helpers. The people who somehow keep it together during unthinkable events. The ones who push aside their own fear and take care of the small, the weak, the vulnerable. When every cell courses with panic and adrenalin and survival instinct, these helpers work for a greater good. They are my heroes.

I love heroes, especially unlikely ones, reluctant ones, ordinary folks who find themselves in extraordinary situations. That's why I read so much, so I can find and love characters who pull themselves up by their bootstraps and seek ways to act with courage.

That's also why I write. Somehow, creating characters who are surrounded by evil but not overcome by it, who keep their moral compass in the face of immorality, gives me hope that I, too, might act as a helper. I just hope and pray I never have to be put to the test.