I am reading the online chatter, the tweets and headlines, and it doesn’t take long to realize something bad has happened, again, and I make myself read deeper to discover the tragedy, if only to pray over what I am sure will be many sad and hurting people.


I’m expecting the news before its confirmed. Children lost, people lost, homes lost. All lost to a wind and in just a few minutes, lives changed. Forever May 20th, 2013 will be remembered for the tornado that devastated the community of Moore, Oklahoma.

It’s been all over the place. Photos, tweets, news casts, blog posts. Even without television, it’s inescapable, and I’m drawn in. I’m in tears over the woman whose dog climbs out from under the rubble while she is being interviewed on a news program. I’m amazed by the man who films the scene around him as he emerges from the storm shelter, his house a pile of toothpicks, and utters, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

But I can’t watch the parents. I can’t click on anything with the words elementary school in it. I know it will be bad.

I can hardly go there, to that mother place of not knowing where is the child.

These big tragedies, they overwhelm me. I know people in Oklahoma. I have relatives there. A friend’s daughter was teaching in her classroom full of children a mile from where the tornado touched down. I ache, from a distance, with the hurting.

I’m tempted, in the face of all this big sadness, to fall into despair for what is so wrong. To forget who I am and where I am in the face of who they are and where they are and what they’ve lost.

On May 20th, 2013, I am with my family and we spend the day outside, together, cleaning up from winter and getting ready for summer. Mowing grass and raking up debris and burning up the old, dirty mess left after months of snow and ice, and I’m thankful for the blisters on my hands and the dirty children around me. I fix soup for lunch and we sit around the table, whole and complete and united in our messiness. And when the news filters its way into our day, I weep over the cinnamon buns as I mix them and butter them and roll them out for the ones who are mine, and it all becomes treasure to be held close and carefully polished.

And when my youngest comes to me, a clutch of baby mice in his barely baby hands, and asks what to do, I can’t even speak. They are just mice, left behind from the cleaning of the barn and mice are killed regularly around here. He already knows, but they are babies and they are helpless and he feels sadness for their fate.

It’s okay, Mom, he says, and he goes out to do the thing that must be done, and I am weak for the hard things, big and small, faced this day.

Around the world, on May 20th, 2013, grandparents passed and mothers miscarried and children cried and cars crashed and winds destroyed and there was hurt and devastation and sadness.

Tragedies, some of which were made public.

None of which was ordinary.

Continuing to pray for the hurting, the devastated, and the sad …


It’s been a week, and if we were living scripture, these past days would be read in Lamentations.

The book written after the fall of Jerusalem and the pillaging and the destruction of the temple.  The book read each year on the saddest day of the Jewish calendar. The book that weeps. The book whose name in Hebrew means, How?

How can such a thing happen?

It’s been a week, and there have been funerals and memorials and deep, deep sadness. There have been words flung about, some with questions and some with answers. And some, simply, despairing.

I find myself sitting, just sitting, and mourning this tragedy. I mourn with the families whose children’s Christmas gifts will go unopened. I mourn with mothers and fathers of babies lost. I mourn with those who loved these teachers. Who shared their lives with these people and who will forever live with the wound carved by this day and by those missing.

And I mourn for a mother, her life taken in her own home by her own child’s hand. A child who went on to do… this. And I ache a mother’s ache.

I search a bit and I find Sandy Hook on the map. A stretch of land reaching out toward New York like a crooked finger, beaches and historic homes and… a lighthouse. A landmark featured on tourist brochures and t-shirts, and somehow this means something to me.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse003-1

In this darkness, light.

This is my prayer. That each of us, as we lament, as we sit in sadness with those who have lost so much, will find ways to shine a light.

Shine a light into a world that seems at times so perversely dark. Shine with kind words, open hands, generosity, sweetness, beauty.

Shine a light with love.