There is an invisible thread that connects us all. Most days we move through our lives unaware. We watch the water circle the drain as we brush our teeth making a mental grocery list, move wet clothes into the drier, toss in a Bounce and remember that today is trash day. We sit in a long line of traffic wondering whether the pan handler at the light really does have a limp or if this is his chosen profession, while little children in the white SUV in front of me happily watch Frosty the Snowman. I found some solace in the 12in. Spider-man bike and Helmet that I delivered to the Salvation Army, imagining the smile on a tiny boy's face on Christmas morning, only to immediately begin to fret over those whose names did not find their way onto the Angel Tree at WalMart. My heart is heavy.
I have tried for almost fifteen years to understand why Shannon left this life too early. Today we are all wondering together, how to make sense of something that can not ... will not be understood. We have all watched as the faces of babies and their faculty flash across the screens of televisions and computers and telephones around the world. We have wept together for families who are no longer strangers and whispered prayers for those who will never be the same.
Perhaps that is my simplest understanding of tragedies that make our collective hearts so heavy. We are connected and what hurts one of us hurts all of us. In the midst of such sorrow, we feel more deeply, quiet the mindless chatter, breathe into the moment and allow ourselves to be ... part of what matters most. We share the pain hoping in some small way to ease the pain of another. We hold closer and longer. We stop and look deeply into the eyes of the little one calling our name and make that moment the only one that matters. For a time we will dwell in this sacred moment.
And then life will move forward. Once again we will be overwhelmed with the extraordinary pull of the ordinary in our lives, and be reminded to be grateful. We will bake cookies and wrap gifts and sing carols. We will remember not only the families in Connecticut, but the families of our military, alone for the holidays, those in countries in turmoil, children alone or afraid... and we won't be afraid to open our heavy hearts and really feel what it means to be connected, because even though sorrow changes us, it doesn't diminish us.
For years I have heard about the end of the Mayan calendar and the suggestion that it predicted the end of our world. The world as I knew it ended on May 1, 1998. The world as they knew and loved it ended in Sandy Hook on December 14, 2012. In 58 years I have lived with great joy and great sorrow. We have collectively experienced senseless acts of terror, natural disasters that devastated thousands, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, war and illness. But if we look beyond the pain, we are blessed with a vision of such generosity of spirit. Such compassion and love. Have you noticed that in times of so much sadness there are no strangers? We aren't reserved or shy about extending our arms to embrace another. We aren't embarrassed by our tears or expressions of sympathy. We become the human family that we are.
Perhaps this very sick young man has, with so many others who have appeared to personify what is the worst and most abhorant among us, given us the gift of stepping outside of ourselves...for someone else. We are witnessing inoccense, heroism, selflessness, courage and love without measure. Perhaps the Mayan's were right. Perhaps the world as we have come to accept it is coming to an end. Perhaps we are ready for something more. Perhaps we want to see what is the best in all of us instead of the worst, we want to believe that in the face of great personal danger we will forget ourselves and do whatever we can to protect another, believe that in a world that sometimes feels so huge... we are never really alone.
For days I have read the messages on Facebook offering hope and promise and suggestions for random acts of kindness, and my heart has been lifted. Our miracle is that offering love and gentleness has no boundaries and the comfort finds its way to those who need it most.
The soft fragile flickering light of a single candle dispels our personal darkness...but the light from a million soft fragile flickering candles will dispel the darkness of our world.