Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas This Year

The recent events from Connecticut were absolutely horrific. As Gov. Dannel Malloy stated, "Evil visited this community" that day. In the days since, many questions from concerned parents flooded my inbox, my desk and my conversations. How will ICS keep its students safe? How will any school? The Newtown tragedy has sparked much debate about gun laws, school safety and security and mental health issues.

I will break from my usual neutral stance on politics to say I support stricter regulations on the possession of firearms. I will maintain my position (see "Safe and Sound") on the vitality of safety and security in schools. Every other school in the country outside of Sandy Hook got lucky on December 14, 2012. Sadly, evil could have walked into any of our schools and wreaked the same level of havoc. Even sadder, evil still could visit us. Any of us. And while schools were probably the safest place for kids to be on December 17 (Hillsborough County employed modified lockdowns for all schools and sent patrol cars to each location), our reaction to the events in Newtown must be more than just a shot in the arm. Our reaction must last much longer than 26 acts of kindness and one week of no outside activities. It must change our approach to our children in this country. It must awaken us to the many evils we expose them to each and every day - poor nutrition, neglect, violence, sex, drugs - and inspire us to change.

May the victims of 12/14/12 not have died in vain.

Along these same lines, my father's passing created an enormous hole in both my heart and my life. In so many ways, I have seen God's hand providentially moving me through the grieving process and have come to accept God's will, however difficult, in this situation. My father lived a good life and his life had a beautiful ending. Even though I didn't know him for the first 34 years of his life, I feel as though he died as his best self.

What a way to go out.

But, the pain and shock of his sudden passing have burdened me with wanting the death of my father to change me. The love and closeness I felt to my family during this loss are feelings that I hope will continue. My dad's death caused me to see my dad with new eyes; I hope that this graciousness allows me to be more patient, loving and forgiving. I want to pray more. I want to be stronger. I want to focus more heavily on my family and put less of my being into my career. Normal isn't normal anymore. There is no going back to a life with my father. And if I can't go back, then I want my path going forward to be different, better, truer to who God created me to be.

I want my dad's passing to inspire me to change.  

Tomorrow, Christians around the world will celebrate the moment that God broke through all of the muck and mess of humanity and sanctified it through the Incarnation. God took on human flesh and in doing so blessed our human lives with His divinity. This single moment, when Christ came into the world, changed the course of human events forever. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that all who believe in Him may not die but may have eternal life (John 3:16)." By this same time tomorrow, presents will be opened, services will be attended, good deeds may have even been done, but will we go back to our normalcy on Wednesday? Will we allow the commemoration of Christ's birth to change us? Will we be different, better, truer to who God created us to be?

I pray that this Christmas will put a greater emphasis on the importance of family. I pray that Christmas this year will help us to see those in need and more quickly and frequently run to their aid. I pray that it makes us more patient, more loving, holier and more willing to submit, as Mary did and as I'm trying to, to God's will. I pray that Christmas this year changes us both for the good and for good.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Life.