It's how I felt on Monday when I heard the news from the Boston marathon. Broken.
It's how I felt on Tuesday when I read the news that a high school classmate, beautiful mother of 4, had passed away from cancer, her children by her side.
It's how I felt when I heard that Melanie, strong mother of our little friend Nolan, sang him lullabies into the night as he breathed his last breath.
It's how I felt when Nolan was diagnosed with brain cancer. It's how I felt when he died.
It's how I felt imagining my own 6 year old as one of those first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December.
From public news to the personal stories all around us, there are cracks and huge chasms.
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen
I usually like to protect myself. Say "I can't go there." Just to preserve me. And because I'm afraid. But lately, I've let the cracks shape me. Tear me open just a bit.
Those cracks make me sad, but also open me to tenderness. To compassion. To love.
Some days I have cried, cursed God, stared blankly out windows, no prayer words coming. Because there's something I know in the deepest part of me: it could have been me.
"The end of my youth was the possible truth that it all happens randomly." - Indigo Girls
The sermon preached at Nolan's funeral by Rev. Mark Lewis, helped me to remember to believe. In God, in humanity, in tenderness. I want to share some of the words with you:
"When a child dies, when a life so bright and promising comes to an untimely end, I ask the same questions that many of you are asking today, “Where is God?” and “How can God be so cruel?” I have struggled with these questions throughout my life, and I have worked out answers which might be of some help. I think I can tell you where God is.
On the night of Friday March 22, just before the opening game of the Kitchener Rangers / Guelph Storm series, God was at center ice; God was in the heart of a little boy filled with excitement, joy and exuberance as he dropped the puck to start the series. God was in the heart of a little boy so concerned with fairness that he wore both a Rangers Jersey and a signed Storm hat in order to show no bias. God was there! And not just in the boy, but also in his mom and dad and his two sisters who shared his joy and understood what the moment meant to the boy. And God was in the fans who filled the arena and who understood the majesty, solemnity, gravity and transcendent joy of the moment. And God was in the players who gladly stepped aside in awe and respect to invite Nolan to center ice and into such a magnificent moment. God is in humanity when humanity rises to such heights of love and compassion.
God is not outside of us; God does not just live in churches, and is not particularly concerned with religious matters. God is concerned with tenderness and with our ability to feel the hurt and joy of others. God lives in us when with compassion we feel the needs of others.
You all feel brokenness, deep sorrow and tenderness towards this family; those feelings are God.
God is not external to us; God is not outside or foreign. God is in our tears and our laughter. God is in our love and care. We should have known this all along."