|Our Lady of Czestochowa|
We enter the third week of Advent in the wake of the tragic shootings of this past week in Portland, OR and the massacre at a grade school in Newtown, CT. It seems like there is little else to focus on. I received a text from my Mom early Saturday morning that she could not sleep as she continued to reflect on the real tragedy of it all. These are heavy things we face as the conversation about gun control escalates and the trauma is reported on, while also being both exploited and politicized through our media sources. I recognize that there is also a focus on the heroes and heroines in these stories as we read the paper, watch the news or scroll through web articles. And, in it all I wonder if we are able to reflect on this reality through our own connection to the people who are affected by the realities of what was, and what is yet to come during these severe situations?
Over the years I have become more aware of my ability to tune out suffering, yours and mine, through distraction. I have also realized that when I disconnect it denies the reality that although I do not know the child whose life was taken (or the person holding the gun) it dishonors his or her place within the continuum of life. When I disconnect and cannot be present to the real suffering of the people of the world I also dishonor my own humanity in an attempt to not experience that which is natural to my condition. Of course, I know that my ability to take it all in is not that of God-who is present in particular ways to our suffering. My Mom's text alerted me to the fact that I need to be present to the suffering of the day (right now in this moment), whether it is on the news or not. With each breath I have the opportunity to respond to that suffering and hold a sacred space for healing. I pray for the healing of Portland and Newtown. I also ask for the ability to see and attend to suffering when this moment passes and the next need avails itself. Tonight I lean into reflection with the Black Madonna of Poland, Our Lady of Czestochowa, as an image of one who tends to the suffering of the world and ask that my heart be penetrated by our loss to the point of pouring out greater love.