A Thrill of Hope

Do you feel as though 2012 kicked you to the curb, sucker-punched you in the jaw, sent you sprawling?

When I think about 2012, I will remember:

  • Newtown, Connecticut, and 28 people killed by one — the second-worst school massacre in U.S. history.
  • Hurricane Sandy – 128 people dead and over $50 billion in damage.
  • Trayvon Martin shot dead by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida.
  • Aurora, Colorado, where gunman James Holmes killed 12 and wounded 58.
  • A September 11 assault in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.
  • Penn State and its sex-abuse scandal. Joe Paterno’s legacy tarnished and Jerry Sandusky convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys.
  • The “fiscal cliff” that will trigger automatic tax hikes and spending cuts and our elected leaders unwilling and unable to come to a fair compromise.
  • Over 3,000 coalition deaths in Afghanistan as part of ongoing operations since the invasion in 2001.
  • Europe’s debt crisis that has hit Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain the hardest.
  • Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani shot in the head for demanding education for girls.

We are a weary world, and we need a reason to rejoice. Well, here it is.

You are not alone. You have reason to hope, and hope pushes away despair and grief. We can mourn and rejoice together this Christmas – mourn and remember those taken from us, too soon, too horribly. But we can rejoice in the expectation and hope of a better life after this one. A thrill of hope.hope

Wishing you peace and love at Christmas, and always.

No Easy Answers

I’m not often in the company of children. With none of my own, there are no young adults, or teens, or little ones wandering around the house. As a writer, I’m usually home alone. When I’m out of the house, it’s most often with purpose: shop for groceries, fill the gas tank, mail a package.

Yesterday I accompanied my good friend Lynne to Troy, New York. We left early in the morning, before sunrise, drove north to the Massachusetts Turnpike and headed west, past Sturbridge and Stockbridge and up into New York, where Lynne’s brilliant and beautiful daughter Olivia was appearing in a musical production of “Willy Wonka” at Russell Sage College, where she is a junior. What fun! A road trip with my girlfriend, a chance to see her very talented child onstage with others from the college and community.

It was a matinée performance, and we adults were in the minority as the theatre filled with 694 children from area elementary schools. From my seat in the balcony’s front row, I watched the little ones march in and fill seat after seat; even the balcony seats behind us filled up with kids. They chattered and giggled and bounced with anticipation. The show did not disappoint. You know the story, it’s every kid’s dream: a chocolate factory, the chance of finding a golden ticket entitling the winner to a lifetime supply of chocolate. The children shrieked with laughter when a couple of the characters burped (intentionally). Kids love stuff like that.

After the show ended, the student actors stayed around to greet the children. When it was time for them to board the yellow buses, they marched out of the theatre. I stood against a wall and smiled at the sight of them: Catholic school kids in uniforms, bundled up in puffy coats, scarves, hats for a chilly December day, oblivious to the tragedy that had unfolded hours earlier. None of us knew about it yet.

It wasn’t until Lynne and I were driving back, heading east on the Mass Pike. We pulled in to a rest stop and she overheard someone talking about a mass shooting. We tried to pick up something on the radio, on our phones, but it wasn’t until we were nearly back in Rhode Island that we learned the details, which continue to emerge.

A morning filled with the exuberant laughter of innocent children – I will try to remember that when the darkness of the day’s memories creeps in.