It feels a bit incongruous, at the moment, to write about the temporary pleasures our family is enjoying. I intended to share a few with you, but that may need to wait a day or two. Like many of you, my mama-heart aches heavily for the parents who have lost little ones -- my Caroline's age and younger -- in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. Especially at this time of year, when families draw close, create and relive traditions, and keenly feel the absence of any missing member, words feel inadequate to empathize with their pain.
I'll think, Oh, I need to get my holiday cards sent out, and the thought immediately follows: How many cards lie waiting to be addressed, now never to be mailed, because they glow with the adorable smiling faces of children now lost? How many cards were already mailed, perhaps the day before, only to sting the hearts of the recipients?
Or I'll consider a gift for one of my children, and visions of carefully chosen presents that will never be opened dance through my head. Worse, the parents who chose and wrapped them must live with the knowledge that their babies' final moments were spent in fear of evil. I hate that. I know you do too.
But in the face of all this, the best thing to do seems to be to weep with those who weep, to pray for comfort and healing, and then to stand against the darkness that causes this kind of outrage and let our family's light -- the treasure in our earthen vessels -- shine more brightly, especially toward those who suffer from hatred or bitterness or illness or loss. We get to decide, to paraphrase a certain wizard, what to do with the time that is given us.
The tiny silver lining in tragedies like this is that they remind us to murmur more urgently, "Thy kingdom come!" and to see our children and loved ones more clearly for the extraordinary gifts they already are, quirky wrappings and trappings notwithstanding. Not to fear more, as is the temptation, but to love better ... for as long as we all shall live.