As I write this, my heart is breaking. My heart is breaking for parents who will not be tucking their child into bed tonight or any night. My heart is breaking for a school that should be a place of fun, learning, curiosity, love, friendship and safety but is now a sign of how fragile security can be as well as a sign of the reality of darkness in our lives. My heart is breaking for a community that is shattered and will need love and support to grieve and journey toward healing. My heart is breaking for our world: for people who live in their own hell and feel that taking another life, as well as their own, manifests itself as a viable option; for the deep brokenness of our own humanity that doesn’t reach out to those in need of help; for families that are now forever altered; and for the pervasive feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that permeates our souls.
These are feelings that have flooded me before. My own personal grief from the death of my youngest child almost eight years ago finds the crack in my armor on a day like today and invades my being. My child’s life was not taken by human violence but from the violence of disease. On a day like today, I am transported back to the moment when I was told my son was dead. The vivid memory of being cold, numb and wailing all at the same time flashes in me as if it happened yesterday. I am saddened that, while thousands of miles apart, I am now connected to those parents in Connecticut. Not that I know their specific loss but as parent, I am tethered to them by bonds of grief, loss of dreams of tomorrow and the shattering of our souls. To lose a child is to lose a piece of your own being.
But as I write this and my heart is breaking, my heart is also being pieced back together and swaddled. My heart, and all of our hearts, is in God’s loving and compassionate hands. God weeping with us, lamenting with us and railing with us gently uses clothes of love, peace and healing to swaddle us when we need it the most. Swaddling clothes of a friend’s hug and compassionate words, swaddling clothes of prayers lifted up, swaddling clothes of a friend who can hold our words of grief, brokenness and devastation, the swaddling of the interconnectedness of all of humanity as people of God.
God just doesn’t understand our grief, suffering and brokenness but fully experiences them with us . God’s own son, wrapped in swaddling clothes, was born into a world of brutality, poverty, suffering and death. In the manger we see don’t see a perfect world but a world that God is deeply concerned about, loves and wants to make new. In the swaddling of baby Jesus comes the swaddling of God’s unconditional and forever love and grace- no matter how bad it gets, no matter how we question our world, God’s presence or our own humanity-for all people and all of creation. Jesus lived in our suffering, diseases of the body and mind and died in the reality of brutality and violence. But God declares that death and sorrow are not the last words, neither for Jesus and the disciples nor for us. God had the last word on Easter morning in the exclamation point of the empty tomb. God offers this in our sorrow, God who raised Jesus and overcame suffering and death, that death, suffering and sorrow will not win. Dawn comes after a long, dark night, new life springs from a dead seed, and resurrection is the gift that God offers to all. This is God’s promise now and forever and this is my hope and help not just for me but for all people of God. Amen.