More Than Just the Baby in the Manger

Sometimes the timing of things does make me believe in alignments of stars or planets or fate, in a terrible kind of way. I wake up this morning to the news of the attack on the Peshawar school in Pakistan, where an attack has left—at latest count—145 dead, many of them children. I scroll through the headlines and images numbly, the same way I did two years ago on December 14, 2012, when the carnage of the Newtown shootings started echoing across the internet.

This weekend, I had been crying on the two year anniversary, just at the thought of the pain those Connecticut parents must be feeling two years on, trying to move on in the face of the immeasurable loss of a child, dead from senseless violence. At the thought of lives lost so quickly, of children far too young to be ripped from the world.

And now this.

I scroll through my Facebook feed, which over the past few months has been an evolving storyline of articles about and protests for the deaths of Michael Brown, of Eric Garner, of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and many others. Unarmed black people killed—many of them young, even children. Today in my feed, I see posts about the Peshawar school joining the milieu of sadness and anger.

And I think.

I think about how, a little more than a year ago, I was in Boston taking part in a service at my church to honor the prayer flags so many people had written after the Boston Marathon bombings, full of hopes for the world. I think about Martin Richard, the 8-year old boy who was among those killed in that bombing, and the picture of him they showed all over the news afterward. Beaming, holding a crayon-scrawled sign that read, “No more hurting people. Peace.”

I find myself repeating the words of that sign. A child’s hope for the world, a world where we have lost so many innocent children.

I think about how today is the first day of Hanukkah, a celebration of light. I think about my Advent calendar that my mother has sent me, sitting in my living room with its hopeful painting of a bright star over a baby in a manger.

I think about how I had been meaning to write a post on this blog about the meaning of Advent and Christmas to me, a Unitarian Universalist. Something about how the baby in that manger is really representative of the hope and the saving power in all children born in all places—inns and stables and hospitals and bedrooms—in all the world.

And I’m thinking of the lyrics to a Goo Goo Dolls song. Bear with me here. In “Better Days,” they sing,

And the one poor child who saved this world
And there’s 10 million more who probably could
If we all just stopped and said a prayer for them.

I can’t write a blog post today. I can’t do theological reflection. My heart is too heavy. I can only offer a prayer, for all those who probably could save the world:

May we love the children. All of them, not just the one in a manger that some of us believe grew up to save the world.

The children of Newtown and Pakistan and Ferguson and Cleveland and every home anywhere in the world where parents stand at the door watching their child leave for school, where the parents cradle a newborn, where parents grieve the loss of a child who has been lost.

The children who have no homes or no parents. The beautiful, brilliant children who smile and play and live and say things like, “No more hurting people. Peace,” because they still have hope in a world that sometimes seems bent on destroying them. May we remember who we were as children and commit to saving those who are children now.

May we realize that all children—black, brown, rich, poor, of all religions and races and nationalities—have the right to live a fully realized life. Let we who are no longer children remember the lost children, and strive to make the world more just and peaceful for all the rest.

Let it be so.

Photo: “Weihnachtskrippe” by Andreas Praefcke – Own work (own photograph). Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons.

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