The hardest part for me to comprehend is that this is happening all over the world. In Syria people are being murdered by the thousands by their own government. In Africa, mothers are watching their children starve to death. In Colombia, kidnapping children is a lucrative business.
But only now, since the shooting, have I been effected by any of it in a real way. Only now has my heart been penetrated. Only now do I hold my children close and squeeze them way past their comfort zones. Only now am I letting my three year fall asleep in my arms, instead of letting her cry, simply because I can.
I think this tragedy hit me so much harder because now it's not something bad that happens 'out there.' Now it is something that happen here. Even in our safe havens, our elementary schools.
"So where is G-d?" a friend asks me. Me, who is an observant Jew. Me, who supposedly has faith. Well here's my dark secret: At times like these I doubt His existence. Actually, I doubt G-d's existence often. How could this world possibly contain so much evil? How could parents be allowed to bury their children? How could money be worshipped above life? How could war still be the answer we are turning to? How could this be The Grand Design?
It just doesn't make any sense.
So why do I continue to be an observant Jew? Because believing that there is a Grand Plan brings me comfort. When I lay in bed at night and worry about my children, I oft imagine the Light of G-d surrounding them in their sleep. I pray to Him to hold them when I can't. To embrace them in a Love all encompassing of their faults and gifts.
Because if I am to believe that I am all they have, I will never be able to breathe again. Because I go to bed at night, handing my troubles over to SomeOne else. They are too heavy for me to hold all the time. Because the worst thing that can happen from living a life of faith, is being called naive. And I'm ok with that. I would rather that, than feel alone in a senseless world.
As long as religion is never placed above life, as long as I treat humans with as much respect as I give my Torah books, I am not hurting anyone. I am simply enhancing my own life. That is my faith. It is not a firm and undeniable belief in G-d. It is a Choice to bring Something Above into my life. Faith is not a personality trait for me. It is not inherent in my being. It is simply my Choice.
And since I don't understand why this happened or why it is happening all over the world, everyday, I will do with it what I try to do with all things in my life: turn it into a channel for good. The only way to ever rid this world of evil is to use the very act as a source of light. Here is my way:
It is too hard to constantly hold the grief in my heart. It is too hard to constantly remember not to take my children for granted. It is too hard to suddenly stop all the routine arguments and fights, nagging and yelling. So instead, on my cell phone I have set an alarm. It goes off once a day, everyday, and it says "Sandy." At that moment I take a minute to stop what I am doing and remind myself how much I love my children and how lucky I am to have them safe, healthy and alive. I give them an extra hug and remind them they are a gift to me.
There are so many tragedies the media reports on, so many it is overwhelming. And I feel deeply about it for about a week. Then I move on. Well, the victims don't just move on when the news does. So this time I will honor the victims by not taking my life for granted. Everyday, once a day, I will not take my children for granted. It is my way of paying homage to all the parents who would give anything just to have their children safe and alive again. Let's not let the collective attention span of our society let us forget. Let's show evil that we are using it's horrible deeds as a channel to bring Love, Light and Good into this world. Imagine how much change could be brought into this world...Lasting change, if every parent used this tragedy as an opportunity give their children more love.
Not just for a week or a month. But for life.
1. My almost seven year old son
2. My three year old daughter
3. My 17 month old son
4. The ability to hold them when they cry
5. The fact that they don't know of evil yet
6. The ability to hold the bad world away so that they can stay innocent a little while longer