Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Searching for Christmas
Where, I wonder, is Christmas? Somehow it’s gone, though it never really kicked in for me this year.The fact that I was late to catch the holiday spirit isn’t particularly significant in itself because every year I am a dervish in high-spin, trying to balance work and the responsibilities of “making” Christmas for my family. But this year is different.This year Newtown happened.
Last Sunday after four days of self-imposed confinement Eric coerced me into joining the real world for the second time since the slaughter of the lambs, first to go to the Medina Flea Market and then Christmas shopping and to dinner at Macaroni Grill. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it perked me up some. But the other half of the truth is this -- I didn’t stay perked for long and I am not perky now. There aren’t enough sandbags in all of Connecticut to keep the anguish of Newtown inside its borders. And that’s how it should be. It’s our job to feel the pain of the parents, the terror of the children, the anguish of forever. It’s more than our job actually. It’s our privilege, our gift, our hope for the world. I suppose it's true that sorrow cannot be measured on a scale, but the one thing I know for sure is that it’s a shared weight.
On our way out of town on Sunday afternoon a billboard caught my eye. It was planted in the yard of the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Rte 18 and on it were two stark words, white against mournful black-- "Jesus wept." YES! Oh, yes. Yes.The word resonated, reverberated, richoted throughout my being. Of course He did. God would weep. How could He not when such an obscenity struck the most innocent and vulnerable amongst us? And yet ever since Newtown, in the name of God, some have argued that what happened there was retribution, the wrath of a God of mighty and fearsome vengeance. I know I should dig deep and find some kind of forgiveness for that, but I think my forgiveness bin is pretty much empty right now. It takes an incredible hardness of heart, a pomposity, a shameful showmanship to argue that God would strike down babies for the “sins of the fathers.” I don’t care if these self-proclaimed messengers disagree with me on evolution, gay marriage, or anything else. But don’t, please DON’T, tell me that God (whom I do believe in, by the way) would ever entertain such a revolting thought. To say so is blasphemy. Pure and simple.
For the record, I do know something about what it feels like when Evil finds your child. We were lucky the day Evil came calling if there is anything lucky about having your child abducted by a gunman. It happened to one of our daughters when she was in college. Somehow, against all odds, she broke free of him even though he forced her into her car in the blackness of night and made her drive to an ATM while he held a gun to the back of her head. By the time we knew it had happened it was over. But relief was short-lived because Evil always leaves a calling card. Always. For us it was a heavy gunnysack marked with two words scary enough to turn your hair as white as the deadly oleander. I suppose it could be argued that we didn’t HAVE to unleash “What if”. But of course we did – many times. We did it then. We did it later. And I did it again after Newtown. But never, ever, not for one single second, then or now, did we blame God for the acts of a madman.
Still, and all, Christmas eludes us this year. We decorated our tree, but not in velvet splendor like last year. This tree is traditional, plain, festooned with a paper star, a bread dough replica of our oldest daughter when she was little, two little photos of two little girls, a shiny green globe held on by a diaper pin, a Hallmark ornament that says Baby’s First Christmas, and a white plastic heart ornament bought for me by my oldest grandson at the Santa Shop at school.
Will Christmas come this year? If so, when? How? Will it come in a rush of noise and excitement when our house fills to the rafters with family? Or will it come in the strains of a carol, or a sky full of stars? Will it come at all? I don’t know. I think it will.