We learn of the horrendous massacre of 20 innocent children and six adults, and all of our senses struggle to make sense of it. There are not words charged with enough emotion to accurately convey our grief, and we know there is no way we can comprehend the depth of heartache and sorrow that parents must be wading through. Yet the divine spark within us, that part of our heart and soul that was made in the image of God, instinctively prompts us to search for a way to help. Furthermore, as Americans, we are naturally problem solvers, and our emotional cultural tradition demands that we solve this problem too. Yet it is an unsolvable problem. What can we possibly offer to ease their pain and comfort our own civilized consciences?
We cannot bring their children back, so our default shock mechanism searches for two substitute answers: comforting them in their sorrows, and memorializing the lives of their children. These efforts may include various expressions of heartfelt condolences and funding of plaques, markers, and other memorabilia honoring their sacrifice. Yet, in our heart of hearts, we know that we still fall short. What more can we offer?
There is something more we can do. We honor the dead in the way that we live. The seemingly senseless sacrifice of these children only has meaning if we become better people because of their loss. We can offer ourselves- in their name, because they lived and died, we can commit to live stronger, love deeper, and serve more sincerely. Their legacy can be that I am better person because of them. On a practical level, this means we can hold our children and loved ones closer to us and share more of our money, time, and hearts with them. We can also offer more of our money, time and talents to anyone in need, regardless of their situation and station in life.
So… I invite you to join me. I’ll only feel better when I find someone else to serve, in their name.