Sunday, December 23, 2012

Where Angels Fear to Tread

The other night at dinner I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes and confessed something that I had never really felt before.  I was having a crisis of faith.   I've always believed that no matter what, God and your guardian angels would have your back.  Even if things didn't turn out as you had hoped, there was a grander plan, a reason you didn't get what you wanted or needed - a lesson that needed to be learned.  But after the massacre at Sandy Hook, I was having doubts about this whole divine intervention thing.  I was angry, sad and felt like everything I believed in had been blown to bits.  Max told me that I needed to stop reading about it on the internet, but even if you didn't read the articles - when you checked your e-mail and you would see the smiling faces of children who were barely out of toddlerhood being buried by their families and a grieving community.   You don't have to read the stories - you could draw your own sad conclusions.   I sat there at the dinner table, just crying for what was the fifth time that day.   At work I would feel the wave of sadness come over me and then would excuse myself to go into a private bathroom and sob.  It turns out there were other women where I work that were doing the same thing.  Max tried to comfort me - told me that the children were in the arms of the angels now and they were safe and feeling no pain.  A part of me knew that, but those last moments of their innocent lives were the ones that grieved me the most.  How the hell could God have allowed this to happen?   Where were their guardian angels when they needed them the most?   Why did this have to happen in the season of love and good cheer when those sweet little ones were excited to see Santa Claus?  Why? WHY?  Please God, why?

I remember the shock of 9/11.  I remember seeing people crying in the street and strangers comforting each other.  I asked why then but at that time there was a common enemy - people from another land who wanted to hurt us in the misguided name of God.   In the days, weeks and months after it happened we found a common resolve, we were united if only for that short period of time before the talk of war surfaced.   But this act is different - for some reason - it's personal.  The actions of the 9/11 terrorists were part of a larger global political unrest that just happened to hurt thousands of innocent people who were just trying to get through their day.    It hurt for a long time and we all felt vulnerable but as we've seen since, there are ways to stop terrorists from getting on a plane with a gun or a bomb and over powering the crew.    A terrorist attack of that scope has not happened since 2001 because the government knew what to do to stop it.  But how do you stop a very disturbed person who is trying to take his rage out on little children and the people who are responsible for them with a gun?  It's too random - too unorganized to try to stop anymore than you could keep a madman from shooting out a movie theatre or a Meet-the-Congressmen event.   This one hit too close to home - it was a school shooting with children who were just infants six years ago.  My God, they never really had a chance to come into their own and that's the real tragedy.   My children are in school - they are the most precious and amazing people I've ever known.  I can't imagine the grief the parents of the 20 children who were shot are going through.  I pray for them which is interesting because that's my default no matter how royally pissed I get at God.   

You hear in times like this, faith sustains you.   But what can you say about a mad man that senselessly mows down the innocent and the virtuous women who tried to protect them?  I would hope the grieving families did not hear - "It's God's will," because as reverent as I try to be, my response would be "Then God's will sucks!"  It hurts to feel this way.   But my soul is wounded and the salve is looking for some higher purpose - a reason in the grand scheme of things of why this would happen.  I imagine that even men and women of God are struggling with this.   Minister Mark Wilson in Hayward, Wisconsin wrote about the shootings in his blog.  He quoted the poet John Blas√© who observed, "Of the things that befall us, this one pierces deeper, for the lost are the least of these. The killing of children is the killing of everything."  He also said his most articulate answer for this event was to simply and honestly say "I don't know."   I can respect that.   There is no pat answer and there shouldn't be.  He goes onto say that it's easy to have faith when things are going well, but in the darkest times, you have to ask the uneasy questions.  It's in those dark times that God whispers to you to urge you on - to give you the strength you need even if you are cursing his name in anger like a teenager because I think God understands that and like any compassionate parent, he loves us anyway. 

Some cultures believe in a group soul in that when many people leave the earth in the same place at the same time it's because the agreed to be part a movement to help mankind.  Before they are born, the angels literally give them their marching orders, who they will be in this life and when they will end their days.   No one really remembers that in utero conversation but it gives us certain affinities in life and lessons to be learned.  For instance, no matter how tired I get of working for non-profits and think I want to do something else, I keep coming back.  The reason is probably because my mission is to motivate people to help important causes.   I've tried doing comedy improv full-time, but never with the same success as when it's combined with a day job that makes the world a better place.   When I'm doing both the improv and working for a worthy cause, I feel balanced.   I guess other people have felt that affinity as well.  Good or bad, that's why they are attracted to the things they might help or hurt them - for instance, getting out of an abusive relationship might be the lesson you didn't learn in the previous life.     

My spiritual path is for the most part the road not usually taken.   Yes, I believe in God, Jesus, the legions of angels, and the saints.  I'm definitely a product of my Catholic upbringing.   But I also believe in reincarnation because I tend to believe that God gives us more than one shot to get it right before we finally ascend into heaven.    For me, the soul is an evolving spiritual entity and one lifetime does not give you enough time for your soul to be complete.   I guess I feel like I've been here before beyond this life as a 49-year old mother who works in non-profits and loves to do improv.   I have been able to slip easily into the world of international healthcare and grasped that topic easier than I would have expected.  I've had a few people in the New Age community tell me that I've been here a few times - okay more than a few - anywhere from dozens to hundreds of times.   I've got to wonder when I'm finally going to figure it out and my soul's mission will be accomplished but I guess that's not for me to decide.   It's in times like this that believing in reincarnation helps me cope because I know that the victims of this crime will be back again to make the world a better place. 

What strikes me about this incident is that it's reignited a passion to help that many people were not sure that they had.  Sure we've seen it during the Aurora shooting when all those innocent people were attacked at a movie theater - but they apprehended the shooter and at least there were some answers - some closure.  The shooting at Sandy Hook was just too terrible to put into words.  It especially hit home for anyone who is a parent.  But it has also inspired people to do better, to be better and to love their children more.  It touched New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz.   After learning that he was the favorite player of one 6-year-old victims, he wrote "R.I.P. Jack Pinto," "Jack Pinto, my hero" and "This one is for you" on his shoes for the Giants game against the Falcons in Atlanta this past Sunday.  Before this, he probably knew that kids were fans and that many probably idolized him but now I doubt that he will take that celebrity for granted ever again.  When he was told that Jack would be buried in one of his jerseys - his response was  "I don't even know how to put it into words, there are no words that can describe the type of feeling that you get when a kid idolizes you so much that unfortunately they want to put him in the casket with your jersey on. I can't even explain it."   He even went to the Pinto family with his fiancee and daughter to spend time with them and offer his condolences.   No one told him to do that for PR reasons.  There were no TV cameras documenting what he did - it was just the right thing to do.  He later commented that he knew now "how short life can be, how much you have to cherish every moment, how much you have to cherish every opportunity.  Every chance you get with your family, never take anything for granted because just a day at school can change all that."  If we can all come away with that perspective, then those sweet innocents would not have died in vain. 

So as much my faith is shaken and as much as I am still tearing up at the thought of that horrible day, I know that there had to be a higher purpose.  I don't have a pat answer as to WHY but then I guess I'm not supposed to.  It's not supposed to be that easy.  I know that it's okay to question because other people have those same questions too.  I just know that love will help heal and love is the most powerful emotion there is.   Love trumps hate.   Love trumps anger.  Love gives you the perspective to give more than you ever thought you could physically, emotionally and spiritually.  It's just not all that easy to summon when your heart is broken.    I know that our nation loves and prays for the people of Newtown, CT.  We all share their sorrow.   I know that right now, I'm not as mad at God as I was a few days ago.  I'm grateful for the gifts I have including my wise husband and my two wonderful children.   On Christmas Eve I will pray with all my might that the world will be a better place because of what happened.   I will come back to God like a rebellous teenager who ran away and learned that leaving that home is a cold and lonely existance.  I will step back into the warmth of the light and know that even with all my questions, it's the one place I should never fear to tread. 

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