In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, CT we have been filled with a variety of emotions. The closeness, the raw footage, the precious faces. There are many perspectives to take on this-a strong stance on gun violence, a call for greater mental health intervention, an awareness of the threshold of trauma that children are experiencing these days. While I have been sneaking updates from the media, I have kept the television off in an effort to not expose the children to unneeded anxiety. It's the social worker in me, I utilize teaching moments (what is safe? what feels unsafe?), but mostly just maintain the perspective to keep them sheltered while they are still little enough to do so.
What hit me the most were the phone calls that we received from family and friends who do not have small children at home who just wanted to hear Julia's voice. There is something peaceful in hearing her giggle and her innocence when the world is experiencing such sadness. As the weekend unfolded, there were several encounters that reinforced the power that children have to heal and to change ones perspective. The following is an excerpt from an email that I sent to our pastor after some amazing encounters with some of the youth in our church this weekend. It was an email emphasizing the power of the calling of our youth - a calling that is happening today, not one that they are waiting to grow into. This story underlines the influence of our children, powerful messengers of faith:
Yesterday Julia embraced the wrong person when we were in line at Starbucks. It was an innocent mistake-(the woman was right in front of me and Julia was so busy looking at all of the trinkets around her that she didn't look up to see whose leg she was grabbing). Instead of releasing Julia from her leg, the woman began stroking Julia's head and let her stay there for a moment. The woman turned to me and introduced herself as Sister Mary from St. Michael's church in East Longmeadow. She said, "With the tragic events from this week, this little gesture was exactly what I needed, a hug from a small child". As she was saying this to me, Julia realized that she was in the wrong place, but instead of embarassingly drawing away, she stayed there and enjoyed Sister Mary's gentle touch. All of us experienced the great blessing in this moment.
In a season of hope, I am grateful for moments like this. Sometimes it takes big events to rethink our perspective, though often the smallest ones reignite our flame.
But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." - Matthew 19:14 NLT