Friday, December 21, 2012

Gratitude in the face of the Sandy Hook tragedy

Like everyone else, I was heartbroken as the news came in about the senseless tragedy in Newtown, CT at Sandy Hook Elementary.  The more details that became confirmed, the more that the whole situation seemed like it was out of some awful movie.  I just didn't want to believe that any of this was real.

What on Earth could make someone want to kill children?  How could things get so bad, so quickly?  How would that community, those families, the children and teachers left behind ever recover?

When tragedy strikes, I want to hide my head in the sand, and avoid the news, avoid the conversation about events, avoid the chaos, avoid the speculation about the details and motivations.  It literally makes me sick to my stomach to think of the terror those children and adults felt, and it brings tears to my eyes every single time I hear one of the stories of  the lives that were lost.

Then, it becomes time to "walk the walk".  If I truly believe that there is something to be grateful for in EVERY circumstance, I need to spend some time paying attention and looking for anything positive in what seems like a completely tragic circumstance.

Here goes - today, I am grateful for:

- being able to go home and hug my daughter at the end of the day.  The day before the shooting, I was feeling pretty grumpy about having to sit up with her because of her cold.  On the night of the shooting, I went home and held her all night long. 
- the "angels" that blocked the stupid protestors that were attempting to draw attention to their ridiculous cause by protesting the funerals.  There was literally a human wall of bikers (aka Hell's Angels) that blocked their attempts, and eventually, the protestors stood down and left.
- the movement to perform acts of kindness in remembrance of each of the lives lost - what a fantastic way to honor their memory. Instead of focusing on the awful details, instead, we can be looking for opportunities to perform a random act of kindness in their memory.
- a renewed conversation about how to keep our children safe.  I don't know what shape those measures will take, but as a new mom, I am grateful that this is causing our leaders and educators to revisit ways to keep our precious children safe at school.
- a revived sense of community.  I feel like everyone around me is being just a little nicer and more patient with each other.  Maybe I am imagining it, but it seems like after such an awful event, it makes all of us sit back and realize what is truly important.
- the power of prayer.  I've heard it said that when faced with a situation you feel powerless over, that you really have two powers:  the power of prayer and the power of example.  In this case, I am wearing out my ability to pray - for the families, for the classmates, for the first responders, for the funeral workers, for the community, for the country, for our leaders, for our educators, and more.  When I feel lost and scared, which is often, at this point, I can close my eyes and connect with a Power greater than me and ask Him to protect us all. 

I have to admit that I don't feel as "light" as I usually do after putting together a gratitude list - but I do feel better than when I started.  I hope you do too.

What did I leave out?  What else could we be grateful for, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting?