Friday, December 21, 2012


Simple Gifts
Throughout the ages, we have entwined pain and celebration, suffering and joy, hope with despair.  So it is,this Christmas season in New England.

Earlier this morning, people stopped for a moment of silence -- a lament -- for the tragedy and carnage of last Friday's attack on the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  It's one of those things we do in our grief.  We pause.  We pray. We ring bells and remember the dead -- soldiers, saints, civilians, children and their teachers.

This tragedy feels personal.  I talk with my teacher friends, and we are overwhelmed with respect for our colleagues, teachers, principal and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We're in awe of their courage and deep commitment, even in the midst of terror.

We ache for those who lived and saved the students in their care, those who died trying to protect children, and those teachers who heard the chaos over the intercom and then acted.

The tragedy touches us, too, because we share that insider's knowledge of elementary schools, the office, the hallways, and the bright, active classrooms.

We know how children shine in their light and joy for Christmas.  They laugh easily and dance down corridors.  They love glitter, lots and lots of glitter.  We all sparkle in unexpected places after a week of making cards and gifts.

This is a tender time during the school year.  We share gifts and excitement.  We adults get to learn from our students about delight and surprise, belief and faith, anticipation and innocence.

Today is the Solstice, the day when darkness gives way to light.  In many ways, we carry forth the same message as the ancients:

Light and dark, joy and suffering, 
hope and despair, life and death,
where there is one, you will know the other.