“If what they say, what they say, what they say is true/ that a spirit up above watches over you/ then I wanna know, what’s His cue?/ And who is God praying to?…If what they say, what they say, what they say is true/ that a spirit down below watches under you/ then I wanna know – when his fame begins to fade/ what makes the devil afraid?”
-Bronze Radio Return
I can’t be the only one who needed no reminder of the anniversary of the tragedy at Newtown. December 14, 2012 changed my life; the way I parent, teach and see the world. I have thought often about what happened that day, and of the mothers of those little souls lost. More than once I have let my mind explore the dark alley of what if and had to switch on the floodlights and run like fire out of there.
On December 13th of this year, I read the messages my brother and sister-in-law wrote to their first born daughter on her birthday; breathtaking words of how much joy and light she has brought into their lives. On December 15th, I read the ones they wrote to their second-born girl on her birthday; beautiful words about her amazing determination and grit. To both they renewed their pledge of unending love and support. A pledge we all make to our children, every day.
Unless they have left us behind in the world; a notion I can barely fathom, and only from this distant ledge on which I stand, honoring other families’ pain, suffering and grief on that day, and over this entire year.
This week I was captivated by an interview on NPR with Nelba Marquez-Greene, the mother of six year old victim Ana Marquez-Greene, who spoke so eloquently she moved me to tears. In essence, she said she feels empowered to choose love every day since her daughter died, and to raise her son in a way that allows him to give and receive love throughout his life, despite their loss, and to choose compassion for every single person – including those who hurt us, sometimes irrevocably. Her motto? Love wins.
I could not help but hear her message as one with unending value and application in a world I’m not always proud to learn about on the evening news.
Do I think it’s mere coincidence that two of my niece’s birthdays surround the date of the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Believe me, I do not. For me, very personally, this is the voice of the universe I hear. It’s a whisper, and it lets me know I’m not alone. It doesn’t promise that horrible, terrifying, paralyzing things won’t happen – and make me feel like I’m drowning, but that, in the tiniest of places, hope floats.
So. What makes the devil afraid? Love. Generosity. Empathy. Benevolence. Faith. Sincerity. Honor.
I heard the public radio interview with Nelba Marquez-Green – it was one of the most inspiring I’ve heard in a long time. I thought an especially nice touch was the statement from her son, who through connecting with victims of genocide in Africa, is finding a way to make sense of the terrible loss he suffered.
Kathleen Oliver said:
It is the work of a lifetime to act on those words…love, generosity, empathy, benevolence, faith, sincerity, honor. I deeply believe that there are only two ways of acting, from love or from fear. My prayer is that we allow love to win.