days of darkness

illustration by Lennart Helje (1885-1922) Swedish Illustrator
illustration by Lennart Helje

Our governor has asked all the churches in our state to ring their bells twenty-six times this coming Friday morning, in memory of twenty innocent children and six brave women who were gunned down in their elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut four days ago, last Friday.

As the chilling details of this horrific story have been unfolding we have been thinking of little else. We are numb, still stunned, deeply saddened. Our hearts ache for the first responders and for the parents, families and friends who lost a precious loved one so suddenly and so inexplicably.

As the light begins to return on the winter solstice, as the bells are ringing, as prayers, sympathy and blessings continue to be offered, may the light of comfort and healing shine a little brighter and a little longer in the days to follow.

It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey.
~ Wendell Berry
(Standing by Words: Essays)

12 thoughts on “days of darkness”

  1. this is a lovely picture, Barbara, and your words ring heart-felt. Wendell Berry’s quote also inspires. An elderly taxpayer arrived to pay her taxes an hour ago and said she doesn’t feel like celebrating Christmas this year. Just hugged her tight…

    1. Thank you so much, Kathy – it’s taken me days to find any words – we haven’t done so much crying in ages. I feel the same way your taxpayer does – we tried to do a little Christmas shopping over the weekend but we had no heart for it. All we can do is hug each other as tightly as possible. And urge our representatives to start doing some real work about our woefully inadequate laws…

    1. I believe Lennart Helje is a Swedish artist. A few years ago I came across a Christmas card with one of his illustrations on it and fell in love with the gnomes and animals and all of his work. I’ve got quite a collection of them now. You were very lucky, Bente, to have had these magical pictures as part of your childhood!

    1. Thank you, Sheryl. I’m comforted to know that you and others are feeling the same way. It seems like the whole world has been moved to mourn this awful tragedy.

  2. Lennart Helje’s illustration is so perfect here – as is Wendell Berry’s quote (I’ve read it several times).

    oh my goodness I think it’s going to be an unbelievable experience to hear the church bells across the state all ringing at the same time. I wonder whether other States are going to ring their bells too?
    How far are you from Newtown?

    1. Berry’s quote struck me, too, because of that helpless feeling we had, we no longer knew what to do or which way to go. Perhaps Congress and the Vice-President will get some real work started on this problem now. Connecticut has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, but as our governor points out, “in the absence of federal legislation, people use descriptive terms to try to get around the limitations that are built into our statutes here in Connecticut.”

      Newtown is located on the western side of Connecticut, about 80 miles from us here in Groton. I plan to pause at 9:30 tomorrow morning for a moment of silence and to watch the church bells ringing on TV. I also wonder if other states will join in…

  3. Australia too has been shocked by this dreadful event and our hearts ache for the sadness you are all feeling in the States. At this time of grieving for so many, your words express comfort in so many ways. Sending blessings and sympathy to all….

    1. Thank you, Joanne. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that our legislators will finally stand up to the gun lobby and pass some meaningful gun control laws. A couple of days ago in a shop I witnessed a man arguing with the clerk about the right to bear arms, sadly, reminding me how very deeply divided Americans are on what to do about this problem. Sigh….

  4. What an excellent quote. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it and the heartbreak caused … too many children, too many people are dying like this! Violence is just too prevalent in this world … but I do believe that a consciousness for compassion and peace can turn it around.

    1. I’m so with you, Diane, we must never let go of the consciousness for compassion and peace. I do believe in the end the light will eventually prevail – perhaps not in my lifetime, but in spite of these terrible setbacks we are making progress on the road to awareness and understanding.

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