Gillian asks me all the time if I’ll write in courage for her. She means cursive, but I love the way her simple question rolls off her bow-shaped lips. Write in courage. Even if it’s a child’s innocent misunderstanding of a word, it gives me pause. How do you write courage?
After the events of last Friday, my heart is breathless. Breathless to see those beautiful faces and names. Breathless to see my own almost-6-year-old bounce into school, her curls fresh from sponge rollers bouncing up and down and up and down. My sweet 8-year-old Benjamin. I spent a full 10 minutes last night pretending I had fallen asleep on him in his bed. Snoring into his ear to make him giggle and tickle. My growing 11-year-old in a 14-year-old body. Still little and needing hugs and loves of his own, but in a different way. His body stretching and losing any trace of babyness. How often he asks if he can pick me up, to show me how strong he is.
I can’t even put into words how much I love them all. How I grieve even thinking of losing moments with them. I can’t imagine the terrible pain all those parents/grandparents/loved ones/friends/teachers feel. I don’t want to imagine it and so I close my eyes and my lips are breathless too.
I have done as most. Watched some of the news. Looked at Facebook. Tweeted on Twitter. I have read articles and watched videos. I watched the President grieve and have talked with friends about our own Kindergarteners. How we just can’t imagine. Each of us boldly having faith to send our students back to school, because if we allow fear to set in then fear wins.
I am not a theologian. I am not even particularly smart or well-read, or philosophical, or eloquent. I do know that when I read or hear that people believe that God “allowed” this to happen because of a law against public prayer, or because it was a “warning” for our nations sin, or because he “ordained” this to happen, or even because there is no God, and “this is proof,” I am so sad. It makes me sad because I want others to know the Father that I know. How he is too big to be kicked out of our schools. How my children walk with God and He doesn’t leave them just because they cross a threshold. How He is not hands off because of some law. Our laws are mans rules and He is not governed by man. He came to save us, but it is our choice. How He is good, all the time even in the face of such terror, horror, and evil.
I don’t know why this happened; I am as messed up about it as you. I cry out and shake my head and tears glisten every time I see one of those little faces. My heart seizes up when I hug my children, thinking of those that can’t hug theirs. Compassion overwhelms me…I want to be careful and intentional about my love. I want to be better because of this, because then something good will happen. I want to battle back for myself and my family. I want to change and I want us to change. I want to go to battle for my children and their safety, their wholeness, their innocence. I want to battle for our communities and our schools. I want to beat back the tide of offense, and idolatry, and blame.
In times of great sadness and tragedy, the overwhelming arc of society is care, compassion, and love. Friends reaching out. Neighbors talking more deeply. Random acts of kindness. People are tender and need tenderness in return. We need to focus on what’s important….not the things that make us feel important. Focusing. Paying attention. Listening. Comforting. Being present. It turns out that the only way to battle, is to love. How can love be a conquerer?
Because LOVE is a person. 1 John 4:8
To write in courage means for me to write this post even though some will disagree. It also means that I’m not going to put up a pretty picture that goes along with my words….(because even if my words fail, my photo will be pretty, so there’s that). I’m leaving my words as they are written because I am the picture of a mother who grieves for those sweet faces and because those women and fathers would be my friends if we crossed paths. I am writing in courage for my 5-year-old daughter, because she asked me to, and I love her.