Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.
That song was playing in the Dairy Queen as my mom and I took a driving break last Friday. I nearly melted while washing my hands in the ladies bathroom. All day we had heard news pieces and I had read stories of the events that were still unfolding out of Connecticut. We knew there was a shooting. We knew dozens of people were killed. We knew many were children.
Every mass shooting this year has provoked my heartache and tears. This one hurt in a different way. Probably because of the idea of children. Innocence in a broken world. And how much I love children! A school!? This happened at a school!? Among the ABCs posted on walls and "Days of the Week" calendars. Among rainbow-colored carpets and creation stations. Among an environment designed to feel inviting and safe to little, bright-eyed humans. The contrast between this safe place and the horror experienced there is still fully unconceivable.
As we continued our drive, every American flag we passed flew at half-staff. Each time, I could feel a new set of saline drops pool in my eyes. And that was before I saw any pictures of those sweet faces or heard of courageous acts by caring adults (or caring kids!).
Now that I have been home, I have been helping prep the house for family's arrival (yay!). You would think something as exciting as that would be an easy distraction. But then something reminds me of the tragedy and I have to stop a minute. Pause. Breath. Pray. Weep. Dry my tears and think forward. Remind myself that life is short and precious and our heartbeats are, indeed, limited. I remind myself that even when each heartbeat pains the soul when thinking about this world's brokenness. And that the act of compassion gets easier each time you practice it. Compassion is absolutely necessary, especially in times like these.
A friend posted on Facebook that it was difficult to pull together Sunday's hymns/song set while thinking of the news. He was working on "Joy to the World!" while expressing joy felt difficult. But the third verse served as a form of comfort.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
That baby's birth that we choose to celebrate on the 25th of December happened because of this world's treachery. That baby's love overcomes all (far as the curse is found). We can rejoice in that, even when our hearts hurt. Especially when our hearts hurt.