We went about our morning, doing our best to get to church in time for Sunday school. Treading carefully over the ice, we somehow got there. Maintaining the normal routine seemed more important than ever.
In the midst of the questions and tears and unimaginable horror, on the 3rd Sunday in Advent, a loving ritual took place. A “grandmother” in the church has brought surprises for my daughter and another little girl for three weeks now.
These daughters of the church “hang out” as their older siblings go to class and parents chat over coffee. This woman, I think born to be a grandmother, for reasons of her own, has created something special for these girls. Each week she brings a different nativity set for the girls to discover and play with. She also brings each a small gift.
I don’t think the girls have any real clue what it all means, but something is sinking in.
I watch the other adults watch the kids. They all smile, as many of them no longer have little children daily in their homes. I watch as the fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers, see their own in the faces of these two young girls. These two, happy, innocent, unknowing, yet loving girls.
How could any of this have happened? How could anyone hurt any child? What has gone wrong in their lives, their minds, their spirits? How could they have pushed God so far away – or misunderstood God so much?
I know God was in that school, just as God is in each home, on each street and in everyplace a child is harmed. I also know that God was there on Sunday, at the table with this grandmother and these two girls, playing with the figures of Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus.
As a mother, as a person, I just can’t imagine. As a person in ministry, I will continue to not understand.
So I pray. I pray with my whole soul, my whole heart, my whole mind, my whole body. The love and grief and dread and worry and feelings I can’t name, pour out of me and towards the parents, siblings, friends, grandparents, cousins, neighbors…to them all.
To even begin to imagine what they feel, the mothers as they had to return home without their child. As they saw the scattered gloves and hats, shoes and toys. The bed unmade from the morning rush, the waiting dirty clothes to be washed, the toothbrush next to hers.
Waking up the next morning, if they slept at all, they would immediately think of their child and the tasks to get them ready for the day. Then they would remember.
Sometime they would hear their child’s voice calling them from the next room, hear their feet as they ran up the stairs, and feel their presence just out of reach.
I can’t imagine. So I pray.
I don’t know what to pray for, but I know God does. So I pray.
Prayer works, so I pray.
God loves, so I pray.