Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What Alise Said

When I posted Saturday about the Newtown massacre, I could not pull up Alise's thoughts and had to instead paraphrase them. Here is what Alise wrote:

I don't care to know who the gunman is or what his f**ked up, useless motivations were. Media scrutiny and attention paid will only lead to further violence as our country continues to obsess over the actions of increasingly troubled individuals. I honestly don't even care about the greater implications that this event has on the subjects of mental health care and gun control in this country.

What I care about right now is that there are [28] people dead, [20] of them children. Parents lost their babies today, and I want to know who they were. I want to know what colors and books they loved, what their favorite games were, what they wanted to be when they grew up, so that we can mourn their loss in specific and concrete ways, and not in the abstract. Tell me who they were, so we can offer our prayers to their loved ones with some sense of honesty and truth. So that we can offer some thoughts to make those children's journey to the spirit world an easy one. I want to think today of those beautiful children that will never get the chance to grow up, and leave the gunman and his motivation to rot in the waste bin of history.

I spent most of Sunday baking too, and as I baked I thought about those little children. I love Alise's call to mourn their loss "specific and concrete ways."

I work at the juvenile court here in Delaware and the flags were hanging quietly at half-mast Monday morning when I arrived. Far harder was the mediation I had at one of our local elementary schools an hour later. It was sad to walk into the school, the flag half mast there as it is all over town. It is was heartbreaking to sit and watch the kindergartners bring the attendance records to the office, skipping and tiptoeing in with pride and excitement over being the attendance monitors. 

They are just little children.

Jonathan Kozol, in his book, Ordinary Resurrections, writes about very young schoolchildren and how they are at the mornings of their lives. He starts out with Thomas Merton's observation that birds, first thing in the morning, "ask God if it is time yet to begin the day." Birds, after making a series of chirps and sounds but not yet breaking into song, ask God "if it is time for them to 'be.'"  Little children, said Kozol, are much the same: "It may be nearly lunchtime in the world but, for this little girl, it seems as though it's only a few minutes after dawn...Soon enough she'll brush the cobwebs from her eyes and take a clear look at the world of vowel sounds and subtrahends...and some bigger things that lie ahead, like state exams, but not just now." 

The burials have begun in Newtown and the world moves on. Before we all move on, though, let us mourn those children in "specific and concrete ways."

And let us celebrate and keep safe all the other children who are awakening and asking "if it is time for them to 'be.'" 



Marcia said...

Blessed be the little children.

see you there! said...

Such a hard time, little ones bring us such joy. I'm busy these days counting my blessings.