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December 17, 2012

snow

It is finally snowing. So much and so suddenly it reminds me of those fast labors you hear about, where women go from enormously pregnant to cradling a peachy headed newborn in what seems like the blink of a contraction. Southwest Colorado has been restored to a certain measure of rightness, puffy mounds of snow finally covering the weird winter typo of desiccated leaves splayed over dry soil.

And then, Newtown, Connecticut. Our hearts are shattered for those families, as I know yours are too. The notion of losing a child roams the darkest, scariest caverns of my mind. And even as I’ve begun to imagine it this past weekend, my mind shorts out like a flipped breaker switch, returning quickly to the well-lit places of grocery lists and winter break plans.

I’ve heard my friend Kati’s 4-year old son suggest—when she fails to honor his request for say, a ginormous brick of sugar–that they find a solution together. I keep thinking of that. Can we find a solution together?

I like what Glennon Melton says: “I think if never before, now is the time to admit that the problems we have are very, very complicated and multi-layered and desperate. And to solve them, it’s going to take all of us. Right now, we cannot scream at each other for peace. I can’t anyway. If we’ve done what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always gotten.”

Mostly, I don’t know anything. But, maybe affordable health care should be easier to obtain than a semi-automatic weapon. Also, as one of the wealthiest countries of the world, maybe we could take better care of our people, prioritizing our collective wellness over some worn-out Hollywood ideal of rugged individualism.

That heart-shattered place is sometimes the quickest and shortest path to a heart-opened place; I imagine you’ve noticed this too. And it is from the heart-opened place that we have the largest capacity to do good things, to care for others, to press for solutions.

Please don’t underestimate the small good that each of us can do. If you’re not sure where to start, we can start by not doing harm, by not yelling at or belittling our children. By treating people with kindness and compassion, especially ourselves. (And then forgive ourselves heartily, when we fail). Does this sound cliche? I don’t know. I truly mean it..

This morning, I cradled my children like newborns and dolloped their bodies with kisses—elbows, thighs, earlobes, cheeks—like I used to when they were gummy-mouthed babies. I filled them with Mama-love, because that, more than anything on their Christmas wishlist, is the most valuable thing I can give them.

snow2

I would not know what to say to the parents of Sandy Hook. As the Quakers so beautifully say, I am holding them in the light, even as that will never be enough.

Holding you all in the light. xo

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2012 5:49 pm

    You truly make my heart sing to read your words. They really and truly resonate. thank you.

  2. December 17, 2012 5:56 pm

    thank you rachel. you said perfectly what i was clumsily trying to say on my own blog this morning. and i am right there with you. that broken heart place hold great power. kindness is no easy, or small, feat.

    so much love to you and your family. give your babes extra kisses for me, and i’ll give fern one for you.

  3. December 17, 2012 6:01 pm

    I did the same. Lit candles… sent them prayers and good wishes and thoughts. And then I looked upon my own beautiful squabbling children and felt such incredible gratitude.
    “But, maybe affordable health care should be easier to obtain than a semi-automatic weapon.” This struck a chord my heart…. we speak a similar language.
    much love……
    ~s

  4. Barb permalink
    December 17, 2012 6:15 pm

    Rachel, you and perhaps your readers might appreciate the thoughts from our executive secretary (director) at FCNL, who shares: “In our spiritual lives, Quakers talk about being “cracked open” an internal condition that can be both painful and, eventually enlightening, because it profoundly changes us, creating new ways for us to understand, to be, to act in love.” As you said, That heart-shattered place is sometimes the quickest and shortest path to a heart-opened place…

    Here’s the link: http://fcnl.org/blog/2c/grief_bewilderment_and_shock/

  5. abozza permalink
    December 17, 2012 6:20 pm

    “That heart-shattered place is sometimes the quickest and shortest path to a heart-opened place; I imagine you’ve noticed this too. And it is from the heart-opened place that we have the largest capacity to do good things, to care for others, to press for solutions.”

    Rachel, This is one of the most intelligent and insightful things I’ve read since the tragedy. Thank you, as always, for your words.
    http://amysreallife.wordpress.com

  6. Beth Drechsel permalink
    December 17, 2012 6:33 pm

    Thank you for this post. I, too, was struck by your comment that affordable health care should be easier to obtain than a semi-automatic weapon. And I think that includes mental health care. In so many states the mental health care system is terrible. Parents get little or no help for their kids, which is a tragedy, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

  7. Sarah via facebook permalink
    December 17, 2012 6:47 pm

    Rachel, do you mind if I share this? As always, your words are incredibly moving, and they’ve touched me in a way that I really need right now. I feel swallowed up by sorrow over this tragedy, and I’d like to share some “heart openness”, rather than spread more anger and rancorous “debate.” Either way, thank you for your words.

  8. December 17, 2012 6:56 pm

    Thank you, this is lovely.

  9. Nancy permalink
    December 17, 2012 6:59 pm

    you faker. you hung some snowy landscape poster by Thomas Kinkade on your wall. I can’t believe that snow and that light. it gives me serious snow pangs. ouch.

  10. Emmanuelle permalink
    December 17, 2012 7:04 pm

    Dear Rachel, thank you indeed for your words, generous and thoughtful, as always.

    As far as prevention is concerned, I feel too that both aspects should be taken into account: a distressed child, teenager or adult should be able to find help within our society through to a realistic, comprehensive health and mental health care environment, instead of suddenly diving into violence one day – and that same society should not make readily available the weapons that turn this violence into a tragedy…

    • Emmanuelle permalink
      December 17, 2012 7:16 pm

      Oops – I meant “through a realistic” (I had first written “thanks to” but changed my mind).

  11. December 17, 2012 7:55 pm

    Beautifully said, Rachel. It’s virtually impossible to say anything at all about this tragedy…it’s so big and so dense and so painful…..and yet, somehow you have managed to give us something to work with.
    Thank you.

  12. Jan permalink
    December 17, 2012 8:10 pm

    Dear Rachel, you are so very wise. Far more so than a lot of the residents of Newtown who, reportedly, do not support gun control. At least that’s what we are hearing on our local news, and we are very local, living only 22 miles from there. How could that be? Our hearts are broken.

    Aunt Jan

  13. December 17, 2012 8:46 pm

    This was beautifully perfect. A post I’m asking my family to read. Love to you and your sweet littles.

  14. Melissa permalink
    December 17, 2012 8:55 pm

    Oh Rachel, I’ve been wondering what you’d say, and I’m not disappointed. I’m teary and snuggling my babes and we are all up ro our elbows in yummy granola, so thanks for that ;:
    Much love to you all

  15. December 17, 2012 9:00 pm

    Lovely post, thank you.
    We are expecting a good snow storm tomorrow on the northeast side of Colorado, can’t wait.

  16. Kyle Tharp permalink
    December 17, 2012 9:26 pm

    Rachel, Kyle Tharp here! I used to live in Durango, I have Madalynn Mae (Maddie Mae) and Arlo. Wow what a beautiful article/blog! I’m so sick and saddend, yet reminded, that I am not alone in my pain. That everyone is feeling as ripped open and sick as I am. That I too, held my children so close to me this weekend as the pain and details unfolded around us! Cracked open, hearts ripped out, lying on the floor too sick with grief to function, yet realizing that we do have to go on, and that we are all in this together! I wish there was something I could do to make it all better. I love the metaphore of starting over with the shattered heart being a starting point! It feels too soon, but we have to start somewhere. Just thoughts I am having! Thank you for your, always poignant, pieces!

  17. December 17, 2012 9:27 pm

    Hi Rachel. You really put the right words on the feeling I’ve been having that it is too much pain to dwell there. “The notion of losing a child roams the darkest, scariest caverns of my mind. And even as I’ve begun to imagine it this past weekend, my mind shorts out like a flipped breaker switch, returning quickly to the well-lit places of grocery lists and winter break plans.” I keep going in for more and then backing away. Our world is so broken. And yet we have to carry hope. Perhaps it’s the openness after a tragedy that you are talking about which is the hope. Thanks so much!

  18. December 18, 2012 12:32 am

    Like you, I really wouldn’t know what to say to the parents either. My heart feels so heavy, and when I look at my girls, so grateful, at the same time. It is such a difficult time for all of us, but I can hardly imagine what it must be like for the victims’ loved ones.

  19. December 18, 2012 1:49 am

    Not cliché. I’m with you mama. x

  20. December 18, 2012 4:31 am

    Not at all cliche, also because I know you mean those words. That is why I named my practice PeaceWorks Coaching. It is my small contribution to greater peace in our world. thank you for expressing it so well for me.

  21. Liz permalink
    December 18, 2012 9:32 am

    Way to shine your light sister

  22. Evan via FB permalink
    December 18, 2012 9:33 am

    Thanks Rachel, beautiful words much needed in this moment

  23. Joy Frazer permalink
    December 18, 2012 10:24 am

    Thanks Rachel. I am grateful for your blog… helps me on tough days.

  24. Andi G. (Atlanta) permalink
    December 18, 2012 10:14 pm

    I always look forward to your thoughts. Thank you (as always) for sharing them. I read that some people are doing 26 random acts of kindness in honor of the 26 victims. Its a small thing, but as you said, don’t underestimate them. The quote that hit me the hardest in this post was this one “If we’ve done what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always gotten.” True that.

    (p.s. JEALOUS of your beautiful snow. It’s been lovely in the ATL, but all my 3-year old wants is snow.)

  25. Julia permalink
    December 18, 2012 11:50 pm

    Ahhh Rach. You are a voice for us all. Grief is grief is grief, but to lose a child? It happens all the time – hard not to grab my little guys and never let them go anywhere! And yet that would be worse. What an inconceivable task to bring these little lights into the world, get to know them and love them more than life itself and then gradually let them go out of our arms on their own! We are crazy.
    So sad for the Newtown parents and families. So blessed to have my little ones safe in my arms. So angry that this has happened. So hopeful that this tragedy will bring real change.

  26. December 19, 2012 7:04 am

    That image at the start of your post is beyond words it’s so beautiful. What a world we live in.

  27. December 20, 2012 4:48 pm

    “And even as I’ve begun to imagine it this past weekend, my mind shorts out like a flipped breaker switch, returning quickly to the well-lit places of grocery lists and winter break plans.”

    i hear you, sister. on the whole thing, and especially on the bits that others have quoted, and this one here about returning to my own well-lit present moment. seems that as broken open as our hearts are over all this, we are somehow healthier for it. my hope is that all those children did not die in vain and that people hear this wake up call, and don’t just roll back over and go back to sleep. at the same time, survival mode requires us to hug our children who are right in front of us, and be present here in our real lives, and maybe that is what we are supposed to be waking up to anyway. i echo your “i don’t know anything”, as that is my predominant reaction as well.

  28. December 21, 2012 6:17 am

    Beautiful, heartfelt words. xo

  29. December 22, 2012 1:33 am

    “Also, as one of the wealthiest countries of the world, maybe we could take better care of our people, prioritizing our collective wellness over some worn-out Hollywood ideal of rugged individualism.” Exactly. And if this tragedy has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t know anything either. But I know how to hug my children and spread the love.

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