What contrasts we are experiencing — celebrations and excitement gearing up to Christmas; mourning and grief following the killings in Newtown, Conneticut. I am grateful for Patty Kirk’s piece at The Well, Another Problem of Christmas, where she does not ignore the pain and grief that accompanied the Christmas story — Herod’s murder of the male infants, “Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.” How can it be that our lives go on, how can Christmas go on, even as this gaping hole has opened in the lives of these families in Newtown?
Shortly after my husband’s death of cancer, my children and I traveled, just after Christmas, to be with his family for their annual gathering on Lake Michigan. We anticipated a time of shared mourning with his brothers and sisters who loved Pete so deeply. We did experience this. But at first, we were shocked when on entering the lake house, we found life seemingly going on as usual. Our life had stopped, but here there were political discussions, sharing of holiday treats, games of Settlers, laughter, jokes even. How could this be?
The kids and I made our way out to the beach that night — in a bitter cold wind with snow swirling over the sand. We made a circle and cried and hugged each other. When we arrived back to the house, we were welcomed back in with hugs and tears. Yes, of course they had grieved and were grieving, but lives go on, even in the face of death. Maybe especially in the face of death.