“When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
In this space I have written about tragic events from the news before. On a site dedicated to survivors of trauma, it sometimes is the responsible thing to do. Always, it is a sacred trust to attempt to find words for the unspeakable.
This is the fourth day since the massacre of 27 people, 20 of them young children, in Newtown, CT. Also, in the same place and time, the suicide of the young perpetrator of this atrocity. Clearly four days is not enough to get one’s mind around the enormity of this crime against children and their protectors. There may never be enough time to accept, let alone understand, the motive for such unspeakable violence.
In the hours since the first bits of news came out of Newtown, I’ve looked, as many have, for a place in my mind to comprehend the slaughter of 20 young children, 6 teachers, and the mother of the troubled young man who also took his own life. I found no such place. What I have found is room in my heart for deep and abiding Sorrow. Yes, there is anger as well but Sorrow is what settles on me like a winter cloak. I think of the delight I took in my own three children and that I now experience with my grandchild. That delight is denied to the families of the victims. It lives only in memory.
On this fourth day something has changed in me. If there is any acceptance at all, it is in coming to terms with the inevitability of Sorrow.
I can feel it somewhere between by throat and my gut, as if one can locate Sorrow in a space. Also on this fourth day, as one with the luxury of some distance from the events, I ask myself What Now? The answer to that question has many layers, as does the deconstruction of the tragedy itself. As a citizen, I need to answer, as our President so eloquently said, How can we do better than THIS? We must do better in the arena of mental health assessment and treatment, we must do better in the area of weapons proliferation, we must do better in identifying and helping at risk families fractured by divorce, mental illness, and isolation.
In Newtown it has been inspiring to see faith communities step forward and offer leadership, support, and comfort. The seeds of such destruction as visited Newtown four days ago are, after all, a spiritual problem. In response, people of all faiths, and of no faith, are all asking the same question – What does Love look like now? This is a question to be answered in the here and now, but also as we move forward as a society. The heightened awareness of our connectedness, our responsibility to each other, must not be allowed to fade away. The memory of 28 people who died violently in the most normal of communities, depends on keeping our awareness alive. Sorrow thus can be a powerful motivator for change in the direction of a saner, a safer, society.