I'm reading news of the murders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, though I can't bring myself to watch it. Who can fathom the terrible ruin of the mind of the young man who fired the guns, and then turned one on himself? And when I try to imagine the grief of the parents, my mind goes white. The trauma of the survivors, and everyone who is touched by this catastrophe, will be without end.
If you are in the terrible position of trying to begin to explain this horrific violence to a child, our Massachusetts Bay District staff has sent out some resources that I hope will be helpful:
• Helping children cope after a school shooting, from the National Children's Medical Center, www.childrensnational.org
• Video series with help answering questions from children and adolescents following a school shooting, from the Reston Psychological Center, www.monkeysee.com
• Helping children cope with trauma-related anxiety, from Mental Health America www.nmha.org
• Strategies for talking with children about difficult news of all kinds, from PBS, www.pbs.org
• Information about coping with a traumatic event, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.bt.cdc.gov/masscasualties/copingpub.asp
• Trauma response resources for congregations, from the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry, www.uua.org
If you join me in the feeling that you wish you could do something—anything—in the wake of this tragedy, let's lift our voices in favor of comprehensive gun control. If the slaughter of the innocents is not to be in vain, the National Rifle Association (NRA) needs to disavow its opposition to such a law; it should not serve madmen.
Here are a few lines from a letter to MomsRising.org that was e-mailed this afternoon by Dee, a longtime NRA member:
"I started crying when I heard about the elementary school shootings in Connecticut. I'm a proud grandma of two preschoolers. I look at my grandchildren and think 'there but for the grace of God go they.' "
"I'm a card-carrying member of the NRA. I'm from West Virginia. I'm a proud hunter and a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment. And I firmly believe that the NRA must act to help make sure this madness ends. No one needs an assault weapon for hunting. Period. We have to work together for common-sense solutions. We can have both a 2nd Amendment and make sure our school children are safe."
First tears. Then prayer. Then outrage. Then action.
As we kindle lights of remembrance, and add them to the Advent, Chanukah, Solstice, Christmas, and Kwanzaa lights of this season, let us invoke the spirit of the prophet Zechariah, whom I quoted in last Sunday's sermon:
Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit.
May we pray for an end to the senselessness of violence and for the possibility of peace in our nation and peace in our hearts.
Faithfully yours in grief and outrage, and, always, in love,
Rev. Kim K. Crawford Harvie: Senior Minister
Arlington Street Church, Unitarian Universalist
351 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116-3303