In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
In two straight lines, they broke their bread,
and brushed their teeth, and went to bed.
They smiled at the good, and frowned at the bad,
and sometimes they were very sad.
Last week's horrific events in Newtown, Connecticut have been swirling in my mind and heart. I don't think any of us know how to process such a tragedy. Everything seems trivial in the face of such overwhelming sorrow.
For some reason, my mind keeps drifting to Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, one of my favorite children's books. It's the wonderful tale of a school for young girls, including the plucky Madeline and her teacher and protector, Miss Clavel. It's Miss Clavel's keen ability to sense trouble that I return to again and again.
In the middle of the night, Miss Clavel turned on her light. And she said, "Something is not right.”
Something is not right. We know that now. We likely knew it before, but we were able to lose ourselves in the day-to-day, rushing to the next place and next thing, and not face it.
There are so many stories of Miss Clavel in Newtown, Connecticut; protectors who fought and shielded, comforted and quieted. This New York Times story is unbelievably gripping. There's a line in that piece about the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School that I will never forget: "...it was hard to run with their eyes closed."
We know, little ones. We know because we've been doing it for a long time.
I can't offer a solution. I only know that things will get better through thousands of small decisions by every one of us, and maybe a few big ones, too. For the children in our midst, and their protectors, let's stop running, and open our eyes.