This week I and just about everyone I know is reeling from the tragedy in Newtown Connecticut. Whether we have children or grandchildren or not, our hearts break with the sorrow of such a loss of life. We take heart when we hear the story of the brave teachers who did everything they could to protect the young and their bravery and selfless loving give me courage when my courage barometer is low. In times like this I remember my mother who on hearing about violence committed by a young person such as in this tragedy, would go immediately from hearing about the violence to saying a prayer for the family of the perpetrator. And so, in the spirit of Eleanor, I pray for the family of the gunman. May they be held with the same love as the families of those who died because it is that Great Love who knows no bounds, who holds us now too as we grieve for them all.
My granddaughter is 4 years old. She was told about the shootings because her 8-year-old brother would be returning to school on Monday and would certainly hear about it if not told first at home, and everything that goes through Dylan’s mind is transmitted to Kiara. So both of the children were given a version of the story which somehow we hoped that they might be able to take in and not be too frightened or confused. I was told once that Mr Roger’s mother told him in times of tragedy to “think of the helpers” and so this helper message was part of our attempt to transmit the faith that there are more people in life who help than who hurt so call on the helpers.
Yesterday Kiara came to our house singing a song which I imagine was inspired by what she had heard and took in about the tragedy and about how all of us, no matter who we are, are loved beyond imagination. And so she came to Nana and Grandma’s house singing in a loud voice “I am loved! There are many adults who love me! I am loved! Everyone knows my name! At Quaker meeting I have a name tag and everyone knows my name. I am loved! Everybody loves me! I have a family and everybody loves me! I am loved! Everyone knows my name…”
And so it is. She and every other person, living and dead, is known by name and is loved dearly. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
I have called you by your name. You are mine.