There is no shortage of darkness in the northern hemisphere at this time of year. The winter solstice marks both prolonged darkness and renewed hope of more light to come.
As we bid adieu to 2012, the darkness is particularly cruel and bitter for the families of those children and adults whose precious lives were recently extinguished in a massacre of innocents at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Unfortunately, the human condition is all too frequently punctuated by such moments of madness that wrench our hearts and torture our souls.
How does one or an entire community possibly move forward after such a sudden, random and vicious act of violence, especially when surrounded by and immersed in the Christmas season of joy and hope? The inner darkness and anguish experienced by the family members affected by such evil must seem impenetrable, agonizingly cruel . . . utterly eternal. How then, can one begin to explain Robbie Parker’s incredible public reaction to the brutal murder of his 6-year old daughter Emilie, a mere 24 hours later?
No one would blame Emilie’s father if he raged against the perpetrator and the moment of inexplicable madness that forever ripped his precious daughter from the comfort of his beckoning arms. But there was no hint of vengeance or hatred in his voice or demeanor. There were no demands for gun control or personal compensation for the unimaginable heartache he must have felt.
Instead, Robbie Parker chose to fondly recall the sheer love and simple joy that was Emilie. “She was beautiful, she was blonde, she was always smiling. She never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those around her,” he said. Remarkably and courageously, he even chose to offer his sympathy to the killer’s family, “I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you.”
What the world witnessed during that press conference via CNN cannot easily be explained, especially in the face of such raw evil. It was a moment of divine grace, a spirit-filled light that emerged from the deep dark night of the soul. A brilliant flash, reminiscent of another light that long ago illuminated the night for a people living in darkness.
May we all have the courage to spread light and hope in our own lives and the lives of those around us.