Thursday morning I drove to the airport in L.A. where Aaron and the Boy boarded their flight to Thailand. They are spending Christmas holiday helping out at the orphanage, among many other things.
listening to the BBC radio broadcast, World Have Your Say, in the car on the way. The conversation was
about Syria, and they had some munitions experts describing the types of
weapons being used in the Syrian conflict. They talked about missiles and rockets
and guns and cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are being dropped into civilian
populations that contain incendiary devices with chemicals that stick to your
skin and burst into flame. Weapons of mass warfare are being used on regular
people who are stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time. The worst part about
these bombs is that not all the incendiary devices explode on contact. Many
remain dormant until they are disturbed. They are painted in bright attractive
looking colors, and most often the people who pick them up to look at them are
children, which sets them off and coats these little kids with flaming liquid
that they can't extinguish. If they do survive such a things their injuries are
horrific, and debilitating.
It was horrifying to listen to, to realize that this is happening, right
now, every day. People are deliberately harming others, innocents, in horrific
Friday morning came reports from Sandy Hook, of children murdered in
classrooms by deliberate premeditated action.
Right after that I learned of the man in China who attacked 22 school children with a
I was again horrified, and tears flowed as the story came in. Then I watched as facebook erupted into hundreds of
comments and opinions and expressions of sadness and disbelief and anger, and
all the things we experience when something like this happens. But then people
started to point blame fingers, in one direction or another, grasping to make
sense of what is so very senseless.
I know that it is so very present, a tragedy, when you can read the names,
and see the faces, of the victims and when it happened to people just like us,
in a town just like ours, in a school very much like the kind many drop their
own children off at every morning. We don't see the faces, or know the names of
the children, mothers, fathers, and teachers who died in Syria this morning.
We don’t have the news channel mercilessly show us footage of what happens
in Burma when children are used as minesweepers in rice fields, over and over
again. How they run, with armed soldiers behind them guns aimed. How a foot
disturbs a buried bomb and a tiny body is torn apart in mid air and the others
gape in horror but they keep running because of the guns pointed from behind.
They don’t play that in front of us that way they play footage of ambulances, weeping children, police sweeps and candlelit vigils in Connecticut. Perhaps if they did it
would be easier to care as much about the evil that happens so much farther
away from our own doorstep.
The world is no more ugly today than it was on Thursday. People are not
more broken than they always have been. It is just harder to ignore today.
Today we are reminded that evil lives with us, and near to our children, not
just far away, where it threatens other children, children that we do care
about, in principle, but don’t think of very often.
So today, as people continue to point fingers one way, or another, trying to
distance ourselves from tragedy, trying to explain evil to ourselves, trying to
insulate our own families from the possibilities, I beg you not to. Let your
heart be torn open, as it should be. Not just for the victims of Sandy Hook but
for all of us, who live in a broken world, for all the children who go to bed
at night with gunshots ringing in their heads, and have personally known evil
in ways that no one ever should.
If we must point fingers somewhere, let us point them at our own hearts,
that are capable of knowing of such atrocities and yet of moving on with our
own lives as though they aren’t happening. Our hearts that cling to comfortable
delusions of security in an incomplete creation, and are shocked every time we realize
how false those delusions are. Our hearts that care more about making our
corner of this earth a comfortable place for us to pass the time until we die,
rather than embrace our calling to bring redemption and hope to the places
where the darkness is the thickest.
You may or may not have read the meditations for kids that I write, on
Advent, or Lent. If you did you wouldn’t know that the main point of all of
this that we celebrate this
season, of God coming in the flesh, to dwell with us, is to get his Breath of Life back into us. To equip us once again to
have the power to carry out our first mandate, finish the creation, mend the
brokenness, bind up the brokenhearted and to bring, through our obedience, the
actual will of God here and now. Which is that none should perish, that all are
healed, that we live in peace with each other.
I firmly believe we all are given something to do to bring healing and
restoration. It’s always something that we can do right now, right where we
are, and it’s right in front of us, though often scary to begin.
So I ask you to listen, to lay your heart bare, and to make yourself willing
to do whatever it is that you hear God telling you that you can do. We are none
of us helpless, for He gives us the strength to be His presence here on earth,
his hands and feet, to do the work of healing and redemption. It could be as
simple as choosing today to forgive someone you have been angry at for so long,
or a gunman who now lies dead, to love someone who is hard to love, to bring joy
to someone who takes time to bring joy to. It could be choosing to endure
something hard with kindness, and love and as peacefully as possible. “We can
do no great things, only small things with great love.” Mother Theresa
You and I, we are part of the problem. We are also part of the solution. We
get to participate in redemption this week. If we say yes to the opportunity in
front of us. Will you?