If I ever had any doubts about how loved I am by my heavenly Father and why I should be nothing but a laser beam of joy during this time of year when we celebrate the sacrifice that He gave to us in the form of his son, well those doubts completed evaporated yesterday afternoon. I won't waste anymore of your time with this nonsense of slowly and painstakingly trying to figure out which blessings to count.
I'm alive. Rife with sin, wearing jealousy and bitterness like a coat of armor. Less than innocent. But my life continues while the lives of 20 children, babies really, guilty of no more than stealing a cookie from the cookie jar, wiping a booger on the car seat or calling someone a doo-doo head went back to God yesterday for absolutely no more valid reason than pure evil.
There is no consolation heartfelt enough to console those parents. The teachers who survived while their colleagues were gunned down, the parents who walked away with their baby in their arms, who spent the evening comforting their friends who didn't - that kind of guilt doesn't dissipate - it just migrates from heart to head. The children who survived it, torn between feeling guilty and being so relieved that they still get to have a Christmas. The investigators and first responders who opened the door to it...
It's not going to make sense, ever. It doesn't matter what the media says and what the father tells the investigators. We can explain it, but explanation isn't healing. We can rub the explanation into the wound like its Neosporin, but it is just never going to make sense. We don't deal well with that as human beings. That's what we are left with.
That is enough for me. The superficial "sadness" that I felt is completely overshadowed if not consumed by the darkness of this incident and I get it. I get that I am supposed to be thankful for every breath that I am given, that I am supposed to be thankful for every breath that your child is given and that my child is given. I get that I am to love no matter what and give the benefit of the doubt no matter what. I get that I am no longer allowed to manufacture my own misery because there is an abundance of it out there that I can share in... a surplus if you will. So why create my own insignificant maudlin? I get it, like Ebeneezer Scrooge got it that cold Christmas morning as he flung open his window and told that poor, unsuspecting youngster to go buy the biggest goose in town. I get it. I get it. I FINALLY, TRAGICALLY GET IT. Because of those babies who deserved nothing but to be hugged infinitely, sat in time-out occasionally, and listened to with love, I get it: service, sacrifice and gratitude for every single second of our fragile, fragile lives... Enough is enough. I get it.
Here's the vision:
The angel dashed through the streets of heaven, scattered and frazzled, his wings practically flattened behind him with his speed and determination. "They are coming!" he hollered. His face flushed with excitement, his feet not moving nearly as fast as he desired and his breath coming in short, excited rasps. Soon there were three more behind him, moving at the same speed, their robes swirling like glimmering cotton candy up and around their feet and knees. "Crayons!" one of them called out. "Because she loves to color and pink is her favorite!" Five more fell into the throng, their feet pounding, the very rafters of heaven beginning to shake. The cries went up: "She'll need a crown to play princess!" "He loves trucks... and digging!" "Toy dinosaurs!" "She pretends everything is a microphone!"
The thunder of the throng as they headed toward the gate was deafening. The twenty moved like lightening toward the gate where they would welcome home their little souls. The millions of other angels lined the streets for them, wrapping themselves in their wings, covering their faces to hide their tears. The younger angels who had taken to the streets, who were heading for their young charges didn't understand. The Father would explain.
He met them at the gate. His face said it all. "Every homecoming is joyous," he told the young ones. "But not every departure is a celebration." And then He told them the truth. And then He let them cry. And then He told them of the levity of their job; he told them that they would hold their charges and wrap them safely in their wings. He explained that they would one by one bring the little ones to the Son who would then bring them to Him. And He explained that after they had given their sweet little spirit to the Son, they were to make about the business of those left behind. Comforting them without touch, embracing them not using arms, ministering peace without words. They would not be young after this, the Father explained. It wasn't fair, He explained. But it is the way.
And so the angels stood at the gate, hand in hand and awaited. And when the time came, they went. And they stood beside their little charges and they wept with the anger that there was nothing they could do but look at time in the exponentially fractionalized way that God looks at time and calculate the movement of the bullet and step in quickly, as if in a dance and wrap their wings around their child and embrace the light of their spirit and soul, pulling it in a heated charge just above them, leaving only the sweet-faced, chubby armed shell to meet the bullet and fall to the floor.
They carried only light close to their bodies, wrapped in their wings as they moved through the barrier of mortality and infinity, the heat from the little souls almost too much to bear. The silence was crushing and broken only by 20 barely audible slashes of time freezing forever in the air left in the room.
Soon there was nothing left, nothing but the human definition of life: blood and skin and tissue. Nothing but silence on earth and the deafening cry of injustice.
But in heaven there was laughter, and there were embraces. In heaven there was the tossed-back-head booming laughter of the Son as He listened to their stories and passed His peace to them in a ginger kiss on the forehead. There were the angels who stood in line to meet these little pieces of light, to wrap them in their wings, to hold their hands and walk with them and hear their stories.
And the Father, on His throne, cried. But whether the tears were named joy or sorrow no one dared ask...