Sunday, January 9, 2011

Peace and Vulnerability

This is what North Texas looked like today.
Today was a great day for snow because it is Sunday. No one had to get up early and watch those mile long crawls on the news to see if school was cancelled. Inevitably, we always tune in to the news when the alphabetical listing of school closures is in the E's. We need to see the C's and D's so there we sit impatiently waiting for the loop of closures to begin again. None of that today. With the sound of sleet and freezing rain hitting the deck early this morning, we rolled over and went back to sleep until . . .ah, until . . .until . . .let's just say until much later than usual.

When we finally got up, it was absolutely beautiful outside. The few inches of snow on the ground lay perfectly undisturbed. The dogs had not been out yet so there were no little paw print trails; no cars had yet been down the road; or if they had, it was long before we got up and the tracks had already been filled in by the furiously falling snow. This morning's sights and sounds were to me what peace looks and sounds like.

We put on a pot of coffee and went to get the paper. Rarely do we have the luxury of leisurely reading the morning paper actually in the morning. As we sat down together with warm mugs of coffee and the newspaper, suddenly that sense of peace that overcame me only moments before was shaken by the cold reality of the paper's front page article recounting the horrifying details of yesterday's shooting in Arizona. Word by word, second by second, detail by detail, those feelings of peace were chiseled away. I forgot what peace felt like. I forgot what peace looked like. Peace became an imaginary land veiled by the curtain of harsh reality.

The trees in whom I had seen only beauty and serenity only moments earlier to me instantly became a picture of vulnerability.
They reminded me of all the people who were standing innocently at that grocery store yesterday. In that moment the trees didn't look peaceful; but rather cold and burdened. Literally frozen in place by what was going on around them.

In a few days, the temperatures here will rise; the sun will shine and the snow that blanketed the trees today will be gone. That cold and burdensome appearance that is reflected in the trees will disappear. For those whose lives were directly touched by the bullets that were fired in Arizona yesterday the chill will last far beyond winter's days and the burdens may last a lifetime.

I pray for a time, a place, and a people for which coldness of heart is overpowered by a warmth of spirit and an understanding of true peace.