Friday, December 21, 2012

Dear Peace on Earth


Dear Peace on Earth,

If you truly exist, you would be like the perfect stillness of a candlelight.  As I stare at the glowing one in front of me--flickering, wavering, bending--I almost stop breathing so that it becomes perfectly still.  For a fraction of a second, I feel as if you are truly present.

It's been a week since the devastating event at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.  I have had neither the courage nor know-how to write words of it until now.  There have already been posts and articles and essays and reports written about this tragedy--with better words than I can ever muster.  Some were painstakingly beautiful; some were tragically truthful.  But none of them tried to make sense of it, because it simply isn't possible to do so.

When I first heard about the shootings, the words "children" immediately ripped me.  Why would anyone shoot to kill children?  As the facts slowly settled in my mind, my eyes became blurry and my nose stung, hard.  But I pushed them back.  I fought the tears away.  It was a place my heart didn't want to go.  I was too scared to open the floodgates.

I didn't watch too many footage on TV.  I wouldn't read much of the news.  I tried to stay off topic on social media.  I just couldn't face it.  

Each time I thought of these children's families, I would go through the same motions: imagine, feel, and immediately extract myself from that state of mind.  Because I can't think about it while looking at my own children.  I couldn't even come near a what-if or a could've been.

Normally a sentimental schmuck that cries at anything and everything, I didn't let my tears flow for this.  I held up a dam with all the strength in my body.  To let the dam break and crumble would be too real, too raw, and I was afraid that I wouldn't only cry--I would bleed.

For a week, I pushed the tears back.  I blinked them away.  I shut them down.  I struggled between feeling selfish because I didn't want to hurt, and justifying the function of my dam as a defense mechanism.

I was too scared to open the floodgates.  Until today.  I was caught off-guard, and they opened--rather unexpectedly.

Today was the kiddos' school's Holiday Concert.  The children took turns singing a song they had been working on for weeks for their parents and families.  This year, the school hung colorful holiday lights all around the gym, dimmed the lights, and put on a lovely show.  Children were wearing their holiday best, singing with heart and smiles, and gave it their all in the performance.

Each year, the Holiday Concert ends with the same song--"Let There Be Peace on Earth"--sung by children, and then joined by the audience.  Just before the song, the principal spoke about this tradition, and how while it has always been a meaningful song to sing, it is more than ever this year. 

Suddenly, my heart ached.  I thought about all the innocent children and grownups we lost last week, their grieving loved ones, and the sadness that swept the entire nation.  I thought about twenty beautiful children's voices that could have been singing this very song.  I thought about the community of Sandy Hook that is trying to mourn, heal, and survive.  And amidst the soft glow of colorful holiday lights all around the dimmed room, the children began to sing, and my tears came gushing out like water spilling over a overfilled sink.

I had lost my strength.  The dam broke.

That was the 2 PM performance.  At the 7 PM performance, I braced myself.  But what I experienced was, again, completely unexpected.  While tears came and went, I was encompassed by a sense of total gratitude.  The warm lights reflected off the faces of smiling children; the air reverberated their tender, innocent voices; and the room was filled with love--between parents, teachers, children, and human beings.  Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.  I couldn't have felt more blessed than during that song, because for a moment, my world stood still like that candlelight, and I felt completely at peace.

Let There Be Peace on Earth

Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth,
The peace that was meant to be.
With God our Creator,
Children all are we.
Let us walk with each other,
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me,
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take,
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.



You can hear for yourself the beautiful voices of all the children singing this relevant song (via the video clip below):



So Dear Peace on Earth, you are not a figment of our imagination because I met you tonight, at our school's Holiday Concert, as did many others.  Dear Daughter, in her innocently mature ways, reassured me on our drive home by saying, "Don't worry, Mama, you weren't the only one crying."  That I found comfort through tears is the unexpected gain I reaped today.  May you continue to heal us of our sadness; the world is undeniably a beautiful place when graced with your presence.

Sincerely,
Me


18 comments:

  1. Well said, Sandra. I believe we can have Peace on Earth, it will take moving mountains but with people like you sharing great stories and emotions like this we can do it. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you so much, Sean! I think children are resilient, but life is so fragile. If we can succeed in instilling the notion of peace in our children, the future would be a better place for all. I really appreciate your stopping by to read my stories!

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    1. After the floodgates opened, the words just poured out, much like the tears themselves. Thank you so much for reading, Ruby!

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  3. Your post is so touching that I almost started crying again. (I'm so tired of the puffy eyes and stuffed-up nose!) Your last paragraph sums it up nicely and gave me goosebumps.

    I'm glad you had this encounter with Peace on Earth and shared it here. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. This tragedy is a tragic reminder that each day is a gift and is more special than anything we can put in a box or trim with ribbons.

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    1. I found it so interesting that I had no words for this for days and days. Then I wrote half of this and went, still, nowhere. The next day at the concert, it just all came together. There was a story, there was a point, and there were lots of tears and words. I just had to share this beautiful song that truly is so much more meaningful for all of us this year. Thank you so much for your kind words, Janna. I am really thankful for your beautiful commentary as well.

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  4. It is hard to not get emotional listening to the children sing-thank you for sharing it with us. I wish that I had been able to avoid the news and discussions about the tragedy but my husband gets OCD about wanting to know more, wanting to know why. I think it is good, once in awhile, to let the floodgates open, supposedly it helps in the grieving process.

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    1. The children's singing was so wonderful and festive--all up until the very end of the concert. It was beyond beautiful and touching and soulful and lifting. I know there were lots of teary eyes in the audience (even though at the time I felt like I was the only one).

      I think we will never really find out the mores and the whys. On the one hand, I want to know, but on the other, I can't deal with thinking about the tragedy of the entire event. Regarding the floodgates--it was a really good cry for me. I think I really needed it. It does me no good to keep all that inside for good. I just find myself so easily tearful lately--probably much related to this. Thanks, Rachael. I appreciate your stopping by.

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  5. That closeness we feel to our own babies makes us hurt that much more for the parents who can never feel that again. The ones who probably had a holiday concert scheduled for this week, as well. It breaks my heart in two.

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    1. I agree. Because we have a point of reference, parents feel this horrific incident too close to home. Our babies are that much more of a reminder how precious and fragile life is. Thanks for visiting, Jessie.

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  6. Thank you for sharing this song, Sandra. My daughter's school doesn't do a holiday or end of year show. I miss it terribly. And the song choice couldn't be more perfect. I hear you with the floodgates opening - it happened to me too at a really unexpected time. But I needed it, just like you. Love to you, peace to you, and wishing you a Christmas full of wonder.

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    1. Cindy, I read about your floodgates on Kim's blog. I think the most unexpected ones are the most profound and helpful ones, aren't they? I surely needed it, too.

      I am so grateful for having met you through Amommaly. I have loved all the interactions and chats we have had on social media. You are a gem. I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year! Thank you so much for everything, from the bottom of my heart. xoxo

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  7. Dear Sandra,

    I am making a quick visit (no reading yet tonight) to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a happy new year. I am glad to have met you. I will catch up with the reading and commenting one of these days. :-)

    ~Imelda

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    1. Merry Christmas to you and your family, too, Imelda! Thank you for stopping by especially for this kind wish. I hope you have a relaxing winter break with your family. I am so glad to have met you, too! We'll catch up after a much needed few days off! Warmest regards, Sandra

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  8. I haven't written anything about the Sandy Hook tragedy on my blog. I just didn't feel it was my place. But my blog friend did remind me that instead of just being sad/mad about the tragedy, I should do something about it - write letters to those in office to change something about gun laws, school safety, mental health, etc. Anyways, glad you could let your emotions out, and we're truly blessed to have our families safe and sound with us.

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    1. Lisa, that is a very good suggestion re writing letters for change. It is a great reminder that only action can make change. I think for many of us who wrote about this tragedy, writing was a huge outlet to process this senseless act of horror. I know I'll never be at peace with it, but it was definitely a moment of dealing with the event, head-on. You are right: we are truly blessed to have our loved ones' health and happiness. Happy New Year to you!

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  9. So, I read this maybe a day or so after Christmas, and because of the slowrushwierdness that is a "holiday break" with 3 kids home I snuck in reading when I could but to leave my words? Ha! Impossible.
    I just wanted to drop a note here to let you know that I love this post, I love the way you describe your emotions. I seem to get this odd sense of being "proud of you" when I read posts that come from such a personal place. I love it. I love personal, in all its naked guts and salty glory.
    Love to you, as always, xoxo

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    1. "Naked guts and salty glory." LOVE that, Kim.

      Personal places--they are hard places to go. It takes reliving a difficult situation to get there, and it only brings out more rawness, blood, and stings. But in this case, it was necessary. The voices of the children singing this song will be forever embedded in my heart.

      Thank you so much for coming back to send me some love--much, much appreciate it, as always!

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