softly into that good night

At the beginning of the October something terrible happened in the neighborhood my family lives in. I tried several times to write a post on the way that it has effected my family and me, living so far away.  Even though my family didn’t know either the young girl or the boy that took her life, the reality that my neighborhood was not as safe as they once thought was setting in rapidly.  But every post I tried to write seemed not right.
Until I found this post over on A Deeper Story.  This writer understood.  She got what I was processing and trying to understand.  The hardship of a neighborhood now changed.
In the post, the author writes of the purple ribbons around the neighborhood, tied to trees, mailboxes up and down the street.  They originally stood as reminders to the young girl and her family that the community would not stop looking for her, now they serve as a reminder that her family is on our minds and in our hearts.
Last week I was home for Thanksgiving and was not entirely ready to face this harsh truth of the situation.  Those little purple reminders that something awful happened here and that two families in this community have changed forever.
I wonder who is caring for them?  I wonder if there is someone in their lives telling them that this was not the life that they were created for.  That this sort of evil that has seeped into their lives is not of God.  That as the holidays approach, that it’s okay to not be grateful.  That this season of holidays may not feel right and that that’s okay.  I hope that there are people in their lives that can walk alongside them in this excruciatingly difficult time.
I think churches are beginning to wisen up to the fact that more and more people aren’t always able to experience the advent season with joy and anticipation.  I think more and more we as pastors are trying to keep in mind that there are those among us drowning in grief and sorrow while we plan Christmas pageants and put up twinkly lights.  As a Christian community we are beginning to get it.
But it’s imperative that we do not stop celebrating advent because it might be hard for people.  More so it is imperative that we invite them into the advent celebration however they come to the table.  We can be heartbroken and still await the arrival of the newborn King.  We merely need to be made comfortable to mourn at the same time.