My girls are not yet aware of Friday’s unspeakable tragedy in Connecticut. My husband and I, however, have been consumed by it all weekend. Every hug from our girls, each burst of laughter, even their squabbles, were met by us with, first, gratitude and then deep sadness for those families who have lost their beautiful, innocent children.
When these things occur, most of us are hardwired to want to reach out, take action in some way… And yet, it’s hard to know what to do exactly beyond feeling immense sorrow. As the weekend unfolded, answers of “what” seemed to reveal themselves a bit. On Friday evening, after the girls were asleep, I lit a candle and offered up a prayer for the families. The next day, I read the statement by victim Emilie Parker’s father Robbie encouraging people to use the tragedy as, “something that inspires us to be better, to be more compassionate and more humble people.” I vowed to do so. Then late last night, I read this week’s post by Kay Wyma in which I was reminded that sometimes simply, “Being available. Keeping our eyes open to assist when and where we can. Sometimes openly. Sometimes silently.” makes the biggest impact of all.
By Kay Wyma
This morning as I coaxed my tired old legs to run just a few more blocks, I heard the sound of a siren distantly behind me.
It was early in the morning. And, I felt bad for someone’s day that was beginning a bit differently than they hoped. I wondered about the firefighters or policemen in that vehicle and what they would find on the other end of their daybreak call.
But my thoughts didn’t linger very long on the situation; I was quickly distracted by my own day and the plans ahead of me … and my less than willing body that was begging me to stop and smell some roses. Then a great song came though my earphones and whoever or whatever was on the other end of that siren seemed like a distant memory.
Until I kept hearing the siren. It was lasting so long. Getting so loud. Right behind me. I looked back. No emergency vehicle in sight. But the sound kept whining and blaring. Again, my thoughts traveled to the party on the receiving end of that vehicle. Considering the time of the morning, I knew there couldn’t be anything good going on. And again, my heart went out to the one who had called for help.
And as I continued to listen to the emergency vehicle that was apparently struggling to get to the person in need, I thought about the pressing needs that seem to surge (or maybe we’re just more aware) during the holiday season. My heart ached as I thought about the families’ lives that are forever changed by a horrific actions of a sick individual. Thoughts of those children began to choke my breathing as tears stung my eyes. The sound of gunfire, the silence when he was done – having delivered the final cartridge to himself, the sound of sirens racing to aid the the victims of words that should never be next to each other: “Elementary School” and “shootings.” I can’t go there. It’s too much. … Yet we are there.
The arriving vehicles could only do so much.
Then I went where we must all go when faced with tragedy – to hope. And my soul was soon soothed with gratefulness. Thankful for the Lord’s provision of emergency assistance. Help that came, that conquered, that saved, that met and continues to meet all our needs, that dries every tear and is an ever-present help in times of trouble. He isn’t limited by traffic or any obstacles. He doesn’t leave the station wondering what he will find, but already intimately knows our needs – even more than we do.
And unlike me he stays tuned in even when the sirens are off.
As soon as I turned a corner, I couldn’t hear them anymore and I continued on my way. My legs obeyed and kept running down one street and then another.
Until, a couple blocks from our house, I saw the fire truck, lights still flashing, blocking off any traffic in front of a house. At the end of the sloped front yard, on steps that led to the street, sat a woman, shoulders drooped with her head in her hands. I had no idea what was going on in that house, but by the looks of it, nothing good.
Standing next to the woman was what looked to be a neighbor, dressed in a robe as if she had just jumped out of bed. She had her hand gently placed on the woman’s dropped shoulder and was leaning over, offering what looked to be soothing encouragement. Maybe she was just listening. I don’t know.
All I knew is that I was witnessing not just one emergency vehicle in action, but two. One was red with lights still flashing. The other in the form of a caring neighbor who dropped what she was doing to soothe a wounded soul. I was watching hands and feet in action.
Isn’t that what’s it’s all about. Helping. Being available. Keeping our eyes open to assist when and where we can. Sometimes openly. Sometimes silently.
As I turned for home, I said a mental prayer. Please help me to be that neighbor. Help me to lean on those neighbors when I’m in need. And help me to train my kids to do the same.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
Kay Wyma is the author of Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement. She shares the hilarity and the tears that come with raising adolescents & teens on her blog The Moat … because who wants to walk that road alone.