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.