Sandy Hook and the Incarnation


The night after the school shooting in Connecticut, I had a dream of a family walking through the paces of losing a child in the massacre. In my dream, I watched the parents telling their other children, I watched them receive the body of their child, and I watched the family sit in different parts of their living room, shocked and grieving, each taking their turn to touch and hug the body of the dead child. I woke with the palpable grief of this dreamed family weighing on me. It was as if my psyche needed a closer process of identification with those suffering this nightmare.

When things like this happen, we wake up to the human experience of suffering in a new way. It could have been me, our school, my child, our neighbors, my friend…and we imagine or remember the nearly unfathomable edges of pain. How can they bear it? How could we bear it if it were us? Is our pull towards an experience of identification an innate expression of God in us? The Christian tradition teaches that God’s idea of how to connect with humanity was to identify with the human experience first hand. I feel that pull in me….the pull to identify and to imagine the experience of that community. I wonder at the mystery of that innate drive as I ponder that God concluded that identification was so central to the human-Divine relationship that God became a baby.

My dream was a gift to me because it took me deeper into human grief and also deeper into Divine mystery. If Christmas means nothing else this year, I pray that all of us, and especially those in Newtown, can grasp the mystery that God wanted and wants closer identification with us. Jesus’ birth is the evidence that our God reaches out to us to the very edges of our human experience; even into our darkest sorrows.

May God have mercy on those who are in their darkest sorrow now.


  1. I’m afraid to let myself feel that darkest sorrow.

    The wall of my office is plastered with happy, silly family photos. I meditate on those little moments in time, and the faces of my kids bubbling with wonder and untold potential.

    I think… I fear… if I were to comprehend the emotional devastation at Sandy Hook, I would build a wall around my home and never let my family out of sight again.

  2. The Sandy Point tragedy seems to be beyond comment, beyond explanation — too difficult to talk about, any comment or observation trite at best – or ridiculous at worst. Why? and If there is a God of Love – or any ‘omniscient’ God – How? Why????

    Living outside the country – and culture – of the U.S. I’ve not seen/heard much news or commentary on the tragedy. I actually didn’t know about it until 2 days later.

    I almost deleted the Facebook/email notification with just the first few words…”The night after the shooting… I had a dream of a family…” Really? Where can she be going with this? But having been blessed with a relationship with you and insight from some of your unique perspectives in the past – I read on..

    Thank you Janice.

    When I was told I immediately got on the internet to try to find the news first hand…I found myself immersed for hours – not moving from my chair, crying, searching again and again for news of the tragedy. I was intent on ‘seeing’ the coverage as likely it was reported on all the major U.S. networks. I felt isolated and detached… not ‘experiencing’ the tragedy within community. (Being from a small town in CT, having many friends and acquaintances with children in elementary schools..) I wanted to find some more intimate connection – to tell people… I’m associated with this… I FEEL this loss. I wondered at my morbidity and felt guilty — this is not about me! I struggled with the thought – why am I trying to find out more? Why am I seeking some connection, some way to relate? Why am I looking for the video news reports??? Why do people take teddy bears and create memorials at sites of tragedy???? (That last part with snobby disdain… but really wasn’t I also ‘attracted’ to the tragedy? … wanting to be part of it???)

    I realize now that what I was seeking was a way to process the loss – in community, with fellow moms like me who would understand, who would know the thoughts, feelings and confusion. Others to whom this was meaningful, real, close. People I could RELATE to – and who could RELATE to me.

    But I was also seeking some comfort for my soul and mind… in this pain was the nagging question, the nagging doubt, the DARKNESS – overcoming.

    Thank you Janice.

    Once again, an insight to my soul and to my relationship with my Creator. The God of the Universe, The God of LOVE. The God of Redemption. The God of Light. The God of Hope. God our Father, God our Savior, God of the Universe….. God who loves intimately and wants one thing from us…


    After the first few hours surfing the internet the only exposure I had to the tragedy was occasional one line report that “President Obama has…” I hadn’t seen much spiritual commentary on the subject… except that of a humanist/atheist citing the tragedy as further ‘proof’ of the ridiculous notion of a ‘loving god’. Why/how could a loving God allow children to be randomly shot?

    Thank you for reminding me of the alternative… the Truth… of God Incarnate… Light that overcame the darkness and as much of an answer to ‘why’ as there can be …in our current humanity and human understanding.

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