- Posted January 6, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Newtown school shooting: Thoughts and tributes
SANDY HOOK MEMORIAL ESSAY
SANDY HOOK MEMORIAL ESSAY
LISTENING IN THE LAMENT
GOD’S DISCERNMENT OF HOPE
by Deirdre Denise McClain
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me;Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
In the shadows of death, violence and murder, how does one discern God’s voice? How does one move within the agony of grief to develop a theology that embraces hope in the midst of the tears and a renewed life in the midst of the atrocities? When innocent children are murdered by the hands of violence, how does one reflect and create a healing space to listen and to embrace Jesus' love and comfort? How does a spiritual director guide a mother or father through a horrific tragedy to find God, to simply find God?
Instead of hearing the sounds of their parents’ voices, 20 six-year old children heard the sounds of bullets in their classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, December 14, 2012. Within moments the children’s voices and their teacher’s voice were permanently silenced—murdered by the hand of a gunman holding a semi-automatic weapon. Do you hear the cry of the parents lamenting the death of their children?
In response to the children’s assassination, do you hear the lament of a global community praying and crying:
STOP THE GUN VIOLENCE NOW!
In a book entitled,” What God Wants For Your Life,” Dr. Frederick Schmidt says, “The life of those who trust in God is marked by candor. The bible is replete with lament and complaint. In vivid and even painfully raw language, writers of song and poetry describe the dissonance they experience when they witness the suffering of innocents and the unchecked cruelty of others.”
The act of writing the lament is one creative method of discerning God’s voice in the tears of the pain and in the silence of the reflection. Lamentations 2:18-19 state “The hearts of the people cry out to the Lord. O wail of the Daughter of Zion let your tears flow like a river day and night; give yourself no relief, your eyes no rest. Arise cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children…”
“FOR THE LIVES OF OUR CHILDREN…..I have been stuck in grief for the past several weeks trying to write this essay and to reflect upon the theological methodology that would aid mourners in a discernment process. I was stuck in the abyss of understanding their pain and in the trauma they were experiencing as it related to the murder of their children and gun violence.
I reflected upon how my precious sister Paula Rene McClain was killed by her boyfriend's gun in 1993 and how my spirit, soul, mind and body were in a state of shock. I empathized with the parents and felt the daggers in their hearts and understood how their lives have been turned upside down. There are no simple theological answers or paths to discerning God’s voice when your being is traumatized.
When I was traumatized by the murder of my sister, I was able to listen more intimately to God as I prayed and designed creative spaces to freely express my grief and the beauty of Paula’s life through art, dance, poetry, and music. I created a play entitled "Illuminating the Night" to share the story of her life and to empower women and children to break the cycle of abuse and to celebrate their worth and destiny. In the creative spaces I found hope and healing.
As Dr. Frederick Schmidt states in his book “What God Wants For Your Life, “Listening to the voice of God has never been an easy task…therefore, “creating space for the kind of intimacy that lets you listen in a way that gives you freedom--not as a goal but as the energy that flows natural from such intimacy.” Dr. Schmidt states that “by creating space to nurture this type of intimacy empowers one to exercise the freedom that belongs to the children of God—children who are invited to probe and explore, discovering the will of God in the process. “
A creative space of communion with God develops one’s inner ear of discerning God’s voice as one establishes a dialogue of intimacy and conversation. To listen to God more effectively, Dr. Schmidt suggests the following techniques:
1. Listen to God like someone in love
2. Listen to God for the sake of listening to God
3. Listen holistically
4. Listen with freedom
5. Listen with your life
6. Find a way to listen here and now.
Employing the preceding listening techniques would aid a spiritual director and a mourner in discerning God’s voice and presence of hope and comfort.
In this moment, I am listening holistically as I discern God’s voice to express my grief by honoring the legacy of the Sandy Hook children and adults who are “Gone Too Soon.” Listen here and now to their names and the lyrics of Michael Jackson's song "Gone Too Soon":
SANDY HOOK MUSIC MEMORIAL
Music Dedication -
Michael Jackson's Song - (excerpts)
"Gone too Soon"
"GONE TOO SOON”
Like a Comet Blazing Across
the Evening Sky Gone Too Soon
Like a Rainbow Fading in the
Twinkling of an Eye Gone Too Soon
Like a Perfect Flower Just Beyond
Your Reach Gone Too Soon
Born to Amuse, Inspire to Delight
Here One Day
Gone One Night…Gone Too Soon.
SANDY HOOK CHILDREN & ADULTS
Ana M. Marquez
Madeleine F. Hsu
Catherine V. Hubbard
Allison N. Wyatt
Anne Marie Murphy