I remember a story, whose author I don’t, of a boy in an accident. And when he comes home with one arm and one empty space his sadness digs in deep. Bed-covers become a shield to the outside world when he refuses to see anyone. Embarrassed and angry because no one can relate. Not even his father who rakes fingers through hair in a posture of loss because even he cannot understand nor does he know the words to say. And what do you say to a small boy who must change his whole life? How do you tell him there’s joy….somewhere, here, still?
You hear how the heavenly Father then lights the path of the earthly father and leads him to the pastor of their large suburban church. Phone calls are exchanged and the Pastor comes. And when the knock sounds on the bedroom door of that boys dark world, his first instinct is to refuse what might be on the other side, because we already know what this life of fallen sin can look like, and feel like, and sound like, and right then, that boy with the missing arm, doesn’t have the heart to confront.
This Sandy Hook school of small little lives and great big dreams lost, they too will have to wake up this morning and decide whether to let the Christ of the Cross and Christmas see them.
I see the pictures and listen to the sound bytes and my own throat closes. I have waited days to write anything, because there just isn’t anything more painful or senseless than a final good-bye to what you have born. There are photos of women with arms wrapped around each other, there are women with eyes tight shut because they cannot open them, for fear this might not be a nightmare, and how to you go on seeing anything but tragedy? And there are all these Mama’s who cannot keep from filling their arms with their own children, because emptying them is unimaginable.
But then there are the men. These fathers, grandfathers, neighbors, friends. All these grown men fallen right. to. their. knees. Nothing tangible can hold them up. Men may not birth babies, but they do birth family and nothing gets them up each day more than the need to provide. And they make lists of tasks and duties and goals seem to be getting met because this family is there when they get home. But one day it’s not. And I see them collapse into the mud.
Painfully, I know a bit of the bridge they will have to cross, and for some, the bridge will be much longer than for others. I also know each of them will cling to the other, at first, but they will also rail against one another and hurtful things will get said. And I moan and huddle with my own grief because I know the statistics. That 70% of couples who bury a child will end in divorce. I know that pain builds so uniquely in each soul that can bind a person to tunnel vision.
I thank God that Ben and I still hold each other in the small end of that statistic. Our own wrestling is over and we’re still, or even more so, raising two with intention, together.
The Pastor nudges the door open ever so slightly, then more. He walks slowly to the side of the bed and sits in a chair pulling his own empty sleeve across his lap. This boy, with one arm, he knows now, he’s in the company of one who, actually, does get it. The two talk long and healing begins.
And this is what I do know. There is NOTHING! we can go through that the Heavenly Father does. not. understand.
“Oh Lord, be gracious to us, we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.” (Isaiah 33:2)
Desperately searching for pure grace,