O Come Emmanuel

The past 24 hours have been so sad. So gut-wrenching. So awful.

I don’t have anything particularly new to offer – not many of us bloggers ever really do – but yesterday through someone on Facebook I was led to this wonderful piece up at the Fred Rogers Company Website: Tragic Events in the News. Specifically, advice from Mr. Rogers on how to talk to your kids in the face of unspeakable events. And this, of course, was what got me:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers

Look for the helpers.

I’ve often said since becoming a parent that I no longer have the luxury of unfettered wallow. I don’t have the option to continue to let the past define me or to allow my own demons free reign. Some may argue that we never have such options, but when you’re responsible for no one but yourself, it’s easier to let selfishness slide. The harm it wrecks is a havoc for adults.

I don’t get to cop out because, simply put, Abigail needs me. I won’t be a perfect parent, ever, but in shouldering the task of mothering her is the explicit understanding that I must step up and be present and be mindful and be better for her.

And it’s strange, at her age, to think about how I parent her in this context because in many ways these are things she won’t learn about until years from now. For me, and I won’t articulate this well, how I react to something like this right now, when she’s not even forming complete sentences, feels foundational. Even now, I know, I have to, for lack of a better phrase, nut the hell up.

If I hope for Abigail to be brave, I must be brave. If I hope for Abigail to be faithful, I must be faithful. If I hope for her to be kind, compassionate and smart, I must be all of these things and I must be them right now.

People who suppose to have the answers right now are silly and simple. There are smart people out there, and they’re probably closer than the rest of us, but for now I would never be so arrogant as to suggest that I even have the slightest inkling of how we fix this or we make this world a better place for our children.

But I wake up today and I am resolute that I will not live in fear and I will teach my daughter that the world is really filled with helpers, and together we will look for them. And we will eat cookies while we do.

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!