Hear­ing God’s call

The Covington News - - THE SECOND OPINION -

The school shoot­ing in New­town, Conn., where 20 chil­dren and six staff mem­bers of Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School were killed last week, is a tragic re­minder of the sanc­tity of life. Of promis­ing young lives cut short and the unique­ness and pre­cious­ness of ev­ery sin­gle per­son.

As a mother of two, I try to imag­ine the grief of the par­ents of the dead — it must be over­whelm­ing and all con­sum­ing. Just think­ing of the tragedy leaves me with a heavy heart, tears in my eyes and the feel­ing that I need to lie down be­fore I faint.

Un­fath­omable hor­ror. Unimag­in­able grief.

Part of work­ing through a tragedy, so I have read, is con­tin­u­ing with the rou­tines of life that pro­vide struc­ture and a sense of nor­malcy. It’s the ev­ery­day rou­tines that help us get through the day.

Hol­i­day tra­di­tions are im­por­tant as well; they al­low us to set apart the spe­cial times from the ev­ery­day times. They re­mind us of past hol­i­days and mem­o­ries of loved ones. They set apart times that are sa­cred and spe­cial.

My fa­vorite Christ­mas tra­di­tions are some­what sec­u­lar but have a holy theme. The movie “It’s a Won­der­ful Life,” and the TV spe­cial “Ru­dolph the Red-Nosed Rein­deer” are two of my fa­vorites.

Ev­ery Christ­mas Eve, I watch “It’s a Won­der­ful Life” while mak­ing the strata, a yummy, time-con­sum­ing break­fast casse­role for Christ­mas morn­ing (one of my 13 year old’s fa­vorite hol­i­day tra­di­tions). The theme of the movie: that we touch many lives along our way and life is pre­cious.

My two chil­dren and I try to catch “Ru­dolph, the RedNosed Rein­deer” on TV. Cre­ated in 1964, two years be­fore I was born, it served as a sta­ple of pre-Christ­mas en­ter­tain­ment and an­tic­i­pa­tion as I was grow­ing up. You knew you were watch­ing a story that was not real, but it was so en­ter­tain­ing that you watched any­way.

The core of the story, a rein­deer that does not fit in due to an un­usual, lu­mi­nous nose and gets made fun of (re­mem­ber the other rein­deer “laugh and call him names”), ends with vin­di­ca­tion. Ru­dolph with his “nose so bright” saves the day by guid­ing Santa’s sleigh on “one foggy Christ­mas Eve.”

This story, while sim­plis­tic, res­onates be­cause it is at the core of who we are as peo­ple. No one really fits in; we all have our ec­cen­tric­i­ties and un­usual at­tributes, (which in Ru­dolph’s case ends up be­ing a Christ­mas-sav­ing gift), and we des­per­ately want to help oth­ers, to save oth­ers, to be use­ful to our fel­low man.

In most cases, it’s not so easy to spot our gifts or the ways in which we can be use­ful. Few of us have blink­ing noses to in­form us that we may be use­ful “one foggy Christ­mas Eve.” And so far, I have not heard Santa Claus call out to me, ask­ing, “Jackie, with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

But, as is the case with most sto­ries, this story res­onates be­cause it re­minds us of a fun­da­men­tal truth in life.

We all have gifts given to us by God. They can be used by God for his pur­poses to touch oth­ers.

It’s pos­si­ble that the jour­ney of life is to fig­ure out our tal­ents, hear God’s call and put our gifts into the ser­vice of oth­ers.

But how to hear this call dur­ing such a fran­tic and busy time? Pos­si­bly with a moment of si­lence.

In the wake of last week’s tragedy, Con­necti­cut Gov. Dan­nel Malloy has re­quested a moment of si­lence Fri­day, Dec. 21, at 9:30 a.m. EST, a week af­ter the shoot­ings. “Let us all come to­gether col­lec­tively to mourn the loss of far too many promis­ing lives at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School...Though we will never know the full mea­sure of sor­row ex­pe­ri­enced by th­ese fam­i­lies, we can let them know that we stand with them dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time,” he said in a state­ment on his web­site.

To find out more about Jackie Gingrich-Cush­man, and read features by other Cre­ators Syn­di­cate writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit cre­ators.com.


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