Posts Tagged ‘Sandy Hook Elementary School’


Things are not falling apart for me now. But there are a few times in my life when they truly were on a personal level. Somewhere along the line, I picked up Pema Chodron’s book by the same title: When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times.

On December 14, 2012, things fell apart on a collective, national scale, and of first importance — fell apart on  the deepest of personal levels for many, many family members and emergency and law officials of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

I, of course, have no advice, nor many words. Yet I recognize, that because I am a writer, I am usually hiding something from myself when I refuse to write.

I am on the verge of refusing to write….so I will not give into that. Most of my “falling apart” personal experiences, I notice I have not written through. My journals reveal the underpinnings, the warning signs, the path right UP TO the falling apart — then there is a significant amount of time not accounted for; in other words, blank pages, until I was “through it” and on my way.

“Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know. When things fall apart and we’re on the verge of we know not what, the test for each of us is to stay on that brink and not concretize.”
Pema Chodron

I cannot deal with this on a rational level. Reason demands something  hard and defining like —concrete. I cannot grasp this. It is not static. It is too fluid, too life-changing for too many people, too much, too much, too much….It is a wilderness.

The skies even have gone dark since Friday, after two exceptionally bright days. The atmosphere is gloom. It reflects the hearts of the country, the raindrops, the tears falling everywhere. We are at one with the environment grieving this vast grief.

This Sunday morning, in the midst of Advent, the readings from St. Paul paralleled  this “brink” that was as present in the long ago days in the early Christian faith as it is in today’s scenes of purposeful infliction of pain, suffering and loss upon the innocent. It is “Latare” – Rejoice — Sunday. Only one Sunday of the four week season is focused on keeping a rejoiceful spirit amidst any number of our own troubles.

It looks like a daunting, impossible task for the immediate future, but we are also in the season of promised hope — Christmas; but now one Christmas so unspeakably different than what these families in Newtown were preparing for.

The liturgy today, including the hymns chosen to be sung, appeared to me to be sending a cradle of love to fellow families on the East Coast. Even though the presider of the Mass had to speak of rejoicing in his homily, he drew us gently to  the one main way (not by reason) we are able to do this.

It is through our embodying the faith of old, as when St. Paul, in his most dire circumstances of imprisonment and impending execution, still wrote to his followers to rejoice, as indeed, he himself was doing. The reason Paul told them that they could was that Christ was truly present to them in all circumstances, at all times,

There had been no mention yet of the Sandy Hook School shootings by Bishop Murray, who was assisting Father O’Leary until he is feeling a little better. But he concluded his homily, by slowing down his words and deliberately pronouncing these words directly to the congregation. I felt it was as though he knew he had to address the amount of grief held in the hearts and faces before him.

I cannot quote directly, but this is what my heart heard.

“In the fifty-three years of ministry I have performed and the 80 years I have taken breath after breath, I can tell you this. I know for certain that God is very especially present with individuals undergoing hardships of any kind and that God was and is most present to the victims and family survivors and officials dealing with the vast horrors of this immense and immeasurable tragedy.

I believe that.

I am still on the brink — in the moment of pain. There are an infinite number of beaches around the world, I suppose, but today, there is not enough sand to hide my head in. I know what’s going on. But then again, I don’t know anything, really.

I’m also choosing to believe in another line Chodrin writes in Falling Apart.

“Right now — in the very instant of groundlessness — is the seed of taking care of those who need our care and of discovering our goodness.”

That, I can do and I commit to doing it. Perhaps that will help in overcoming the dueling-banjos of both a headache and stomach murmur.

…..”main point is that we all need to be reminded and encouraged to relax with whatever arises and bring whatever we encounter to the path.” Pema Chodron’s words, not mine.

I will need practice to arrive at peace with that.

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