It's just past 9:30 am, Friday, Dec. 21. For one minute, Connecticut and beyond stopped for one minute to honor the children and families of the Newtown tragedy. Clocks didn't stop, but hearts and minds did, just as lives stopped one week ago. For the many grieving families, Life stopped, deviated, and took an unthinkable route through darkness none would wish for. In the homes of these families, time has stopped, though clocks continue to tick.
Last weekend was a depressing one, as I watched the newsfeed on Facebook from my Connecticut peeps. Although I know no one who lost a child, I know many who are
helping: churches, friends of the families in grief, pastors, teachers or daycare
workers. The torrential rain of the weekend didn't help my mood, nor did the cold/flu bug I was recovering from. A good weekend to huddle under a blanket and grieve with my friends; Christmas movies just weren't the order of the day.
Finally I pushed myself out the door Sunday evening, in the driving rain, to hear a friend play oboe in a Christmas cantata; within minutes, depression was peeled off like a wet newspaper, and a warm fire lit in my heart during the piano solo, the Gloria, the hand bell choir. Lessons and Carols. A 60-person choir, a children's choir, and an orchestra. Piano and organ. Classic architecture decorated like a fairy tale. Candles, boughs, wreaths and bows.
Then it came: the grand finale, Handel's Messiah, and I was bellowing the words with the best of them, a friend beside me, arms raised, with an entire congregation belting out words of truth: "For He shall reign forever and ever." This darkness will pass; though it strike a devastating blow now and then, it will not reign.
Other artists have brought healing relief with their responses: a single image, a music clip, or a poem. W. H. Auden's Song (aka "Stop All the Clocks" or "Funeral Blues"), which he wrote for the actress Hedli Anderson, riveted me when I first read it on the London Tube many years ago--part of the Poems from the Underground project. I've pulled it out often in times of grief, or time-stopping tragedies like Newtown. It gets me every time; though I do not agree with the last line, it is how I feel in grief.
I continue to choke up as I read the newsfeeds, though
Facebook grief is giving way to Facebook silliness as Mayan-end-of-the-world jokes
multiply. Americans check to see if Australians are still on
the planet, and Oreo cookie cartoons are proliferating. This non-event will soon slip under the
cultural avalanche of things to look at for 15 min., ridiculous in light of Newtown, but Life, going on.
There is less light today than the whole year: it's the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Make it count. For He shall reign forever and ever.