I have been reeling for the past few days, ever since the tragic events in Newtown, CT on Friday – such a sad and scary act of violence, hard to even comprehend. It hits especially close to home for us, even though we’re 3,000 miles away, because our oldest daughter, Samantha, is in first grade, just like those twenty beautiful children who were killed on Friday. Dropping Samantha and her little sister Rosie off at school yesterday morning was pretty emotional for me. I looked at the shining faces of her first grade classmates and at the faces of the other parents, teachers, and staff members at our school, and couldn’t help but think of those people at Sandy Hook Elementary School – we are them, and they are us.
As I’ve been struggling to make sense of all of this (which I can’t), I find myself feeling somewhat similar to how I felt after 9/11. In digging through some old emails, I found an email I sent out four days after 9/11 to my family and friends. I didn’t have a blog back then or an email newsletter, I’m not sure if I’d even written an article of any kind. However, in reading this email from more than eleven years ago, I was struck by how similar my thoughts and feelings are four days after the tragedy that took place in Newtown, CT. I thought I would share it here on my blog because it encompasses much of what I feel right now as well.
(Email sent to my friends and family on September 15, 2001):
I have had so many thoughts and feelings this past week, as I am sure we all have. Everything from sadness, to rage, to fear, to denial, to helplessness and then back again. I have found it very difficult to know what to do or how to feel. I have watched hours of television coverage and listened to hundreds of people speak about what has happened and what needs to happen – it has been overwhelming and confusing to me. I have also spent a great deal of time and energy talking to loved ones and friends as well as communicating with anyone and everyone I can by email. I just feel like I want to reach out and touch everyone I know and love… and even those I have never met. This whole thing has been a major wake up call for me as to what is really important. So much of what I think about, worry about, and talk about much of the time seems quite meaningless in the face of this tragedy.
What keeps showing up in my head, in my heart, in conversations with other people, in amazing emails from friends as well as those from powerful spiritual leaders is the power of LOVE and the importance of GOD. When it all comes down to it, that is what is truly most important to me and in life!
In the face of this horrible tragedy, we have an amazing opportunity to bring forth the power of Love and God – to tell the people that we love how important they are to us and to connect with that deep and sacred place of our own personal spiritual journey.
I think it is so important that we honor our intense emotions and truly feel them – and let others to do the same. Even though this may be uncomfortable, especially with certain emotions – I know it is that way for me. On the other side of all of our emotions is Love. Love is the key to the kingdom. Love gives us access to healing, to forgiveness, and to peace. Love is the basis of all of our connections to one another. And Love is the foundation of our relationship to God.
I believe that the essence of each of us is Love. It is who we are and what we all want. We each have an infinite amount of Love. I have been so inspired and amazed by the incredible outpouring of love I have seen throughout our country and our world in response to this crisis. Standing hand in hand with strangers at Glide Memorial Church and at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco this week, I wept at the Love I felt (from and for people I didn’t even know) and at the extraordinary power of the human spirit.
This email is an expression of my love for you, your family and friends, and for the world. Here is my prayer:
We pray for courage and strength as we all deal with this crisis.
Allow us to be real and open in the face of such intense sadness and fear.
Please bring peace and healing to all those who have been hurt, directly or indirectly, by this tragedy.
May we unite together in Love to heal ourselves, each other, and our world.
Let Peace, Forgiveness, Healing, and Love prevail.