Saturday, December 14, 2013

Standing at the Edge of the Rain (A Sandy Hook reflection)

This post was written by a parishioner whose son survived the tragedy in Sandy Hook (he was in the classroom across the hall):

As we approach the anniversary of 12/14, many of my friends outside Sandy Hook and Newtown have asked ‘How are you doing? What can we do?’ There truth of the matter is, there is no simple answer. But in an effort to help you understand where we are as a community, I’ve posted the following essay to try to capture the spirit of this week and the mindset of my community. I’m posting it now, because it is not just about 12/14 – but also the days before and the days after and their stark contrast to one another that has us all stirring.  I hope you find it worth a couple minutes to read…
Standing at the Edge of the Rain
By: Aimee M Tabor

When I was 21, I moved to Australia. It was my year of adventure and road trips were the norm. Once on the way to a camping trip, I begged my friend to pull over so I could take a picture of a rainbow. It was magnificent – a full arc stretching as far as you could see in either direction with every color perfectly confined to its specific row. I set up my camera (ahh the days of real film and manual settings), but after the picture, I stood for a while and admired the reason for such as an amazing spectacle. There was a storm coming in off the south coast, it was a magnificent clash of a solid black wall of clouds and stunning blue skies. I stood in the road for a while (we were in the middle of no where) and just watched. Then the rain started to roll in, very much in slow motion. It was the oddest feeling ever. I knew in theory, there had to be a line somewhere just beyond a weather system’s reach. But I’d never been exactly on that line before. And there I stood, my arms stretched out in opposing directions. One hand getting pelted by dime-sized drops falling with such force, they actually stung. The other, completely dry, almost chapped from the heat. I found myself literally standing…at the edge of the rain.

I’ve recited that phrase countless times over the many years since as I always thought it’d make a great title for a book – so poignant, yet I had no idea what it’d be about. Until now. So as the world takes their pause to ask, “Where are we a year later?” We the edge of the rain. Sometimes suffocating in that small gap between hope and heartache - gratitude and grief – resilience and reluctance. Sometimes we’re keenly aware that the rain is as vital to life as the sun. It quenches our thirst for perspective and renews our appreciation for life and all it can offer. Other times, we are content to quietly retreat to our respective shelters and just wait out the storm.

I know so many of my neighbors are struggling with the anniversary, but as I’ve explained to my son, the anniversary is ‘for them’ – the media and the rest of the world, because it marks a reason and excuse to pay attention and to remember. We need no such reminders. Every day is an anniversary. Every day we hold our angels in our hearts and everyday we look at our surviving children with a heightened level of gratitude. We know what amazing people we lost. And what amazing things we've done in their honor and in their name. And equally important, we know what amazing people we have around us – still protecting us, still caring for us and our children, still offering to help lend a shoulder, an ear or a hand - - to each other or to a stranger. By any of those measures, this Saturday is no different than last…and will be no different than the next.

But unlike the raw and untamable weather, we make choices. We decide what to do and how to handle each moment. Here, we deliberately termed it “12/14” to try to avoid the tragedy and the town being synonymous as in “When Newtown happened…” but in a way, it may be making the actual date that much harder – its like a cumulative pool of anxiety tossed into a square-inch spot on the calendar and with each passing week, we’ve had to dread facing it again. But our angel families have clearly unanimously expressed their wishes – do something, anything kind and thoughtful in honor of their loved ones so that they may live on through those gestures. Those Acts of Kindness – no matter how large or small – can say thank you, give back and make life better and more palatable for them, for us, for each other. We also owe it to them, to ourselves and most importantly to our surviving children as we teach them not to squander the simplest opportunities we have to cherish life – whether it’s to decorate the tree or light the menorah, go sledding, build a snowman, dunk marshmallows in hot cocoa or linger in bed for a morning snuggle or an evening book read.

So in the spirit of the season, and all that comes with it - wish each other safety, health and happiness - - and the wisdom to appreciate such blessings. And remember the most beautiful and impressive displays of humanity can be found at the edge of the worst storms. You just have seize those moments and choose to look for them -- within yourselves and in others.

Thank you for your thoughts and well-wishes from near and far. What can you do? Simple: “Be nice to each other. It’s all the really matters.” – Dawn Hochsprung (our beloved - - and very missed, Sandy Hook Principal)


Kurt Huber said...

And for another reflection:

RETA said...

Thank you for writing. Meaningful post.