Monday, December 17, 2012

Newtown, Connecticut

It’s like I want the whole world to stop. Why hasn’t it? At least for longer than a weekend. People are picking up the pieces too soon. Don’t they see? It’s shattered. Our hearts aren’t simply broken. They are shattered. And they need to be left there, in a million pieces, for longer than a short weekend in the winter. We’re still in the “nobody move!” phase of the shattered glass. Each potential step carries the risk of deeper cuts. Nothing has been assessed enough to pick up and start moving on yet.

Hold still!

If nothing else, this tragedy is crying out for us to TAKE PAUSE.

And then, if need be, take an even longer pause.

Sure, you need to carry on and live life and embrace normalcy. But not yet. It’s too soon. If this doesn’t wake us up to STOP. And slow down. And refocus our priorities. What will?

Create some SPACE for God. Make some ROOM at the INN. There’s no better time, and no time more dire.

I read in one news piece that there were folks down in Newtown who were trying to figure out temporary school arrangements for the surviving kids of Sandy Hook Elementary for this upcoming week. Really? There is no sense in trying to display to those kids this soon that schedules should pick up where they left off. Switch buildings and it’s back to business as usual? Trauma like this needs time. You can’t swallow it and move on within the space of a weekend. You can’t.

There are people who will argue that keeping them out of their routine will draw out the process, or scare them more. That's nonsense to me. They are scared and sad, we all are. And it's okay to be. It doesn't mean we base our choices on fear or sadness, it means we take the time to process that fear, cope with the trauma and acknowledge that there is nothing normal in what happened. Kids find comfort when adults give value and rights to what they are feeling. And how can we do that if we're rushing to the next swim meet?

Our culture is so misguided that it hurts.

It’s evident many don’t know where to place their pain. We see both sides of the political spectrum and the media volleying back and forth with the blame game. Guns! Medicine! Religion! Security!

None of that heals the hearts and minds of the children at Sandy Hook. They are hurting and confused… and we’re too busy throwing around our own pain and confusion to comfort them.

The pace of our culture does not leave room for connection, with each other or with God. Everyone, everywhere is saying, “Hold your children extra close, give them longer hugs.” Yay! That’s true!! Do that!! What makes my heart sink is the invisible addendum trailing behind of, “…until Monday.”

The paradigm of our culture needs to shift.

If 20 dead six and seven year olds isn’t enough to do it, I fear nothing will. What is the worst that can happen if people pause for longer? If nothing else, they’ll at least be able to someday tell their kids as adults, “When this horrible thing happened in our country, we took some time to collect ourselves. We paused long enough to re-evaluate our choices before moving forward.”
If they stay the same choices, then so be it. But at least you took the space needed to reflect on them.
Yesterday in church the pastor shared, “these people [of Newtown] are no longer planning for Christmas, they are planning funerals….” He urged us to consider that God doesn’t want us to celebrate the holiday this year, but to celebrate His birth.

Can we slow down enough as a society to put that into context?

Can we stop moving long enough to listen and heal?