The only possible way to make sense of Sandy Hook
“We all collapse a little; may it be toward each other.”
It’s all I can do to steady myself in my chair. The news from Sandy Hook impels me to run to the bathroom, to vomit, to beat my fists against something hard and unyielding.
How could my country, the one I pledged allegiance to every morning for six years of grade school, have come to this?
Even though there is life to be lived today–a book to edit, cookies to order for my finals-taking daughter, this blog to write–I feel drawn to this tragedy. I’m temped to sit comatose by the television set, to watch the horror and shake my head.
Yet, the squirrels still scamper up the tree to their nests, dutifully gathering acorns for the coming winter. They gather as loud humans barge in and out the door that’s only feet from their measly food supply. They gather even though a huge storm last year sent their nest crashing to the ground below. They gather even though death is imminent and life can be cruel.
A part of me wants to hide, to take my daughter and flee to New Zealand, where her dad owns a winery and, presumably, a more peaceful existence.
But it’s not a time to run away or to sit numb, helpless devouring all the details.
It’s a time to act, a time to create. A time for making peace out of chaos, a time for spinning love out of the threads of incomprehension.
It’s easy for me to think, “How can I, one insignificant person from Kansas, stop a groundswell?”
But that’s me forgetting who I am.
I am a creator, made in the image and likeness of the Great Creator.
And I am not insignificant.
If nothing else, I can write about what the massacre means to me. I know nothing about it, really. The macabre details are still being gathered. Other than a short stint at a breathing program in nearby Washington, Connecticut, I have no real ties to this little town.
Yet, the story is also about me. It’s about my anger, the many times I wanted revenge when someone rejected me. It’s about the times I lashed out when someone said, “goodbye” or “You’re not what I’m looking for.”
It’s about the unhealed places in all our hearts, those wounds that make us want to hit someone back.
Why do we want to strike out? Because we feel powerless. Because we have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten that the life force of the Creator thrums through our very veins.
It’s easy to forget in this culture of convenience. No longer do we make our own bread, sing our own songs, dance our own jigs. No longer do we create much of anything. Too often we even forget that we can. The very thing that joins us to our Creator lies dormant.
And in this forgetting, we lose our footing. Picasso said that when he realized painting was a way to give form to his terrors and his desires, he knew he had found his way.
The boy who killed at Sandy Hook had not yet found his way. He conned himself into believing he was insignificant. He didn’t know that the life force of the entire universe pulsed through his body. He hadn’t yet come to appreciate the sacredness of each moment.
He didn’t know he could have screamed his rage and rejection into a song. He didn’t know he could have danced his anger into a profound acceptance.
If only he had known.
It’s too late for him. But it’s not too late for us, all just as guilty of anger and rage as the killers we point fingers at.
You are powerful. You can create the answers to the horrors that confront our country, those things that make us want to throw up our hands, flee to foreign countries, to kill.
Inside you is a stage play that will inspire someone to forgive instead of kill. Inside you is a painting or a story that can turn fear into hope, horror into peace. Even if it’s peace in one person’s heart, it is enough.
As Henry Miller once asked, “Where in this broad land is the holy of holies hidden?”
It’s in the squirrels still gathering their acorns. It’s in you.