"Life is a sparrow's flight through the mead hall."
This line from the ancient poem Beowulf repeated in my mind over and over last week when the tragedy in Connecticut began to sink in.
When I discussed the devastation with my eleven-year-old, he said, "Shootings happen all the time, Mom. Why are you so sad about this one?"
He then proceeded to tell me about the frequent lockdown drills they have at school, which include moving for cover behind the thickest classroom wall, double-locking the door, and closing the window blinds. He said they've also learned to hide in the classroom cupboards if someone is about to break through the door.
I feel stunned and sad that my son is growing up in a time when shootings happen all the time, and when lockdown drills to hide from gunmen are more commonplace than fire drills at school. It is not unlike the feeling of gloom which weighed on me after 9/11, just two months prior to Henry's birth.
Life is a sparrow's flight through the mead hall.
Two things have helped me as I've worked through feeling heartbroken for the families in Newtown:
1) I went to church and found comfort in a gentle lesson and a heartfelt discussion of scriptures which outline peaceful, reassuring gospel principles. I felt calm descend over us as we talked about faith, hope for a better world, eternal progression, and how God can make weak things become strong in us.
Truly, to me these truths are a balm.
2) My perspective changed. Life seems fleeting, more fragile. It may be a cliché, but I am noticing and appreciating small moments of goodness. "This is the day which the Lord hath made," it says in Psalms. "Rejoice and be glad in it."
If it's brief in it's duration, the day can at least be made to spark with some small act of kindness, some gentler and more patient interaction, some expression of forgiveness or love.
It may be brief and erratic, and require flapping our wings through smoke, smells, and the din of the world, but I'm feeling appreciative that I am experiencing this flight.