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Sympathies, prayers mingle with Christmas sentiment

Posted: Wednesday, Dec 19th, 2012

Sometimes the simplest sight can strike a person leaving a profound, unforgettable feeling.

For me, one of the loneliest sights is the gentle back and forth of an empty swing after a child has jumped out of it and gone on to other things. As a youngster, I often swung as high as I could and took wing into the soft dirt just before running back to the classroom at the sound of the bell. Later, as a parent empty swings in motion can give me a lonely shiver.

Another powerful feeling comes at the beginning of sports events when we all stand united and focused. The rippling American flag sends waves through me as, “Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” erupts the crowd into cheers. Chills every time. I’ve stopped trying to fight it.

Then there’s an evening each year just before Christmas when, finally done with shopping and wrapping, I turn off all lights except those on the tree, sit back in my comfy chair to relax and relish the meaning of Christmas and family.

I was sitting there in front of my tree last night, admiring the pretty paper and thinking of each person in my family, the gifts I’d wrapped for them, and how much fun it will be to get together in Mom’s kitchen. Those three poignant feelings began to mix. The warmth of Christmas faded into comments I’ve heard about the recent shootings at an elementary school in Connecticut. I thought of the families. Probably many already had presents wrapped, marked with names, waiting under their tree. Like empty swings, I thought of those presents, of America, of Christmas.

Once again, as a country Americans are joined together with people we will never meet, sharing the sadness of a community mourning an unthinkable loss at this, the most difficult time of the year for tragedy to occur. And we all think of our own families.

I heard someone say yesterday, “There’s not a damn thing we can do about it.” Agreed, we cannot turn back the clock, save those lost or fathom why this happened. What we can do – no matter where we are, no matter what our belief – is pray for those families, pray for Newtown, Conn., and pray for our country.

The power of prayer for the touch of God’s hand is the best we can offer to the people reeling from this tragedy. God sending His love to earth in a very real way is the original meaning of Christmas. My hope is for the miracle of God’s peace and comfort to settle over Newtown, surrounded by a nation’s sympathy and prayers and His arms.

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