It's been a hard week. Surely there isn't a parent alive who, aware of the news, hasn't suffered to some degree, whether emotionally or intellectually. (And not just parents, of course, but any person with a moral centre.) Actually, it's been a hard few years.
What can we do when it's so hard? I'm finding my way only slowly towards an answer for these questions. But I'm pretty sure that, as always, it is love.
I do not want to rage at America, for I know the majority of people there are both horrified by what has happened and terrified about what will come. I want to encourage, support, and love those people. I want to do anything I can to build them up so they feel strong enough to take the hard road ahead. I want to remind them of their past heroes, men and women who overcame the shadows that have previously darkened the nation, and of their current heroes, those who hold up the light, be it a spotlight or a small, flickering candle.
I do want want to rage at all. I want to be peace. My favourite quote of all time is be the change you want to see in the world (Arleen Lorrance) and I truly believe in the truth and power of this. There are times when we must speak up against atrocities, but within that, encompassing it, permeating it, can also be an attitude of peace. For me, that looks like softness and roses. For others, it may be something more fierce. Peace is neither silent nor docile. Jesus himself caused havoc in the name of Love. But always there is the spirit of kindness, community, hope. Always there is the kindling and warming, that comes from light.
To be an effective guiding light you can't be forever flashing wildly. Steadiness, gentleness, calm, are important. We can't help others out of the shadow if we have no hope in ourselves for the light. And so, be peace for yourself. If you cannot, there's no shame in that - it has been a very hard few years. Find those who are peace, let them help you, and give them encouragement so they can continue the work without burning out.
And so I remind myself (again) that when I offer gentle images, quiet words, it isn't that I've turned away from the horrors. It's that I'm trying to shine a little light, offer a reminder of peace. It's a very little light indeed. But every glimmer is a star in the long dark.