Saturday, December 15, 2012
Kyrie eleison; Christe eleison
I was at a meeting at the home of my boss for our Christmas brunch and 2013 planning session when I got the text from the Mr. asking, "Did you hear about the elementary school shooting?"
And Sandyhook Elementary School was added to a dark list; 9/11, Columbine, Virginia Tech,...
And in my spirit, over and over...Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy. It was the only prayer I could compose within my grieving heart.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.
I know, the phrase is part of a Catholic litany and I'm not Catholic. But I've always found it such a simply perfect refrain...Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.
After all, it was the mercy of the Lord that gave us Christ and the mercy of Christ that gave us hope.
Indeed's God's mercy is all we have and all that we need.
That said, would you pardon me an editorial moment?
I've worked my entire adult life with kids. Six years as a paraprofessional to emotionally impaired 4,5, and 6th graders. Ten years as a youth minister in our church, 5 years as the Elder of Education.
I'm approaching my 8th year as a psychiatric nurse, my second year focusing on children.
I mourn today as a mom with unapologetic gratitude that this was not my children's school. And I mourn as someone who has been required by God to do battle for other people's children. It feels like a kind of double grief. As I thank God for his protection over my kids, I put myself under a microscope. Did I do enough to reach the kids who have passed through my life over these 25 years? Did I avert one of these children from growing into a "shooter?" My work isn't done, and I am newly reminded of the responsibility I bear to keep pulling children back from the edge of hell. I'm not able, on my own, to accomplish this task. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy. This is my whispered prayer.
I ask you, then, for a very personal favor. I respect the rights of everyone to have opinions and to bear this dark sadness by whatever means allows them to process it. But I also ask, spare me the gun control conversations. From either side of the aisle. Spare me. I'm fragile right now. Every word I hear uttered on the news about gun control (pro or con) sickens me. It makes me ask, "how have you already stopped crying?" It makes me think, "Your own agenda is what is first on your mind?" These debates and speeches are the only thing that have made me truly angry. And so forgive me when I say, please, stop. I can't listen to it.
And then the conversation about mental health. We neglect the mentally ill in this country. If the gun control passion were even partially harnessed on behalf of this issue, I'd venture to say that gun control wouldn't be such a fearsome threat. When you pass a dirty and mumbling person (which most of us have,) does your heart break? Do you scream within your spirit, "Who is helping?" Do we march on Washington on behalf of those whose minds are too broken to speak for themselves? Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy. While I'm ranting, autism is not a predictor of violence. If you happen to overhear a conversation that points to autism as an explanation, stop it.
Parents and grandparents are all gripped by the terror and we mourn with a corner of our hearts that knows we could not bear this if it was our child. We should be bowed with worship and gratitude even as we go about the tasks of the day.
All of us, however, know someone who spends their days in the company of children not their own. Pediatric health care providers. Teachers, school system employees, therapists, Sunday School teachers, police & fire fighters and others too numerous to list. I ask, as someone on the front line, please pray for us. Deal with us gently. We feel a responsibility to change the path of the future and to protect the ones in our care in the present. We consider Sandy Hook Elementary as mourning parents. And we play the scene inside our minds with ourselves standing in front the children and pray that we would have had the courage to shield them.
There is only one comfort for me, only one thing that I care to hear-
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.