Thursday, December 20, 2012

In the Arms of Twenty Angels

With these sad events of Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut we can all see that if God exists, she does not interfere in the affairs of our world, at least, not in a manner that we can directly see. But, what is it that she does, after all? It is true that if she exists, then it is she who does create these children and then entrust them to us, and that even today, this morning, she pondered existence and although she was not required to do so, she did make her decision, and thousands of newly created infants were created and delivered into our world, into our trust.

If there ever was a boy who grew to be so troubled he could not engage in trust, it was this boy Adam Lanza. And all of it comes down to trust. We have no better strategy than to trust each other. We knew he was troubled, we were unsure how to help him, but we trusted him to carry on, as best he could, in trust with us as co-administrators of the world of peace that we labor to build. We trusted all of them, these boys who armed themselves to slay the innocent. We trusted Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, we trusted James Holmes and Seun-Hui Cho.

The rational theist, and the rational atheist comes face to face with the single question that underlies all moral thought: "Am I my brother's keeper?" We never needed a bible to come to that question, it is the fundamental moral choice that we all face in life. We can live as repositories of trust for one another, or we can be something less than that.

So, who are these boys? Are they our brothers? Do we take the time to know them? Do we even look at them?  Do they look themselves in the mirror and see boys who just cannot fit in? Do they believe we see the same when we look at them? Do they see themselves as not quite so beautiful in form and, thinking this must follow, not quite so beautiful in spirit? They see the beautiful ones, a world of beautiful children, some of them their classmates. But for themselves they must believe they are defective in their internal souls to reflect a countenance that even they cannot accept. They fail in social skills; they make mistakes in speech and movement in desperate clumsiness to just be one of the children of the world. And we do not know of the betrayals of trust that they endured. Some of such events are unspeakable, they have been endured in silence, some of them have been betrayed by the very ones to whom they had been entrusted as newborn children.

And they are here amongst us, hidden, they are all around, and some of them are sisters too, and all of them are lonely. Can we see them as ones to love? If we cannot how will they ever know it? So for atheists, how can we teach ourselves to care from them, to keep them?

And if we wish to believe in God, if we cannot see them with the same loving eyes as she who gave them life, they never will know love, until once again they find themselves in her arms after they have died and like all of us, reach out to her in the sudden relief and joy of remembrance of her being.

But Adam, poor blessed Adam, who if she exists is then the created child of God, he will avert his eyes from hers in a chemistry of burning tears, “I cannot be here,” he will say, “I cannot be with them. I do not belong here, I must be punished, I must be sent to hell, I must suffer forever, I am worthy of nothing more.”

“Who is it that with whom you cannot be?” she will ask.

“I cannot be with such as these,” he will say, for they will be surrounded by the twenty children. “I do not belong with them.”

“And with me," she will ask, "will you not belong with me?”

And he will miss her, of course he will, for it is her face, her eyes on ours, that is the last thing that we know of her, after she has created us and before she sets us to sleeping in our mother’s wombs. And it is the first thing we remember, our souls quickening in excitement at the pending reunion, after we have died. But Adam will have cut himself off form that, in the cruelest of self-punishments, in the knowledge of what he has done.

“No!” he will think to himself, “I will punish myself very well, I will not reach for her..." and his thoughts will trail off to the kinds of pain that only self condemning souls can know, those who in her very presence shut themselves off from her, refusing to be baptized once again in her beauty and her wisdom, these things we most cherish of her, these things we miss so much.

“Will you not open your eyes to me?” she will ask, holding him in her arms.

“I am terrible in my spirit,” he will say, “I am not worthy of even death, I must be sent to hell and forced to live in everlasting pain.” His cries will be those of halting anguish, some that can be heard and some that are heard only within in his spirit, the anguish only she can also hear.

“But it has been so long, Adam," she will say at last, "so very long, since I have last seen your eyes on mine.”

And he will open his eyes at that, at the thought of her alone in time, and like a newborn he will cry for her, like babies we all shall cry.

And she will raise him up to comfort him and in his ear she will whisper what we have always known, “There shall be no hell for my beloved children, you will find another way. I will send you back to the world, to find another way.”

“I am no good for them, you must send me to hell,” he will cry, “I cannot undo the things I have done. I cannot bear my memory.”

“Don’t cry Adam,” a small voice will rise, then another, then all twenty, because they are young children and these are the things young children say while they are still young children, “Don’t cry, Adam.”

His anguish will reach the place where she herself will move to kiss him, to send his soul to sleep, and she will examine him and contemplate all of the memories he wished he could abandon. She will know with us all of our memories, every one of them.

“He is sleeping now,” she will say to them, to the twenty children.

“Can you fix him? Can you make him better?” they will ask.

“I can make him beautiful,” she will say, and then she will. She will re-create him as an infant, waiting to be reborn.

And they will see in their astonishment, when once again his eyes are opened, his memories are clean and new, his baby face is smiling at the sight of his beloved’s eyes, she kisses him once more to sleep and sends him to the world to be reborn, as she sends each one of us to the world entrusting us to each other.

“He was so sad and lonely, who will take care of him?” the children will ask of her, "Can we take care of him? Can you send us back to the world with him, to take care of him?”

And these blessed children and their teachers and Adam's mother will remember the diamonds in her eyes when she kisses them each back to paradise, to the world she has created, the garden we never lost, the world where we awaken to find ourselves entrusted with created life.

We know because we see her beauty and her love that she takes care of us after we have died. She brings us close to her and holds us in her arms for as long as we wish to stay with her, She answers all of our questions, she gives to us the things we need, and we grow to love her beautifully, so beautifully we hasten to be reborn again, to hasten to the world to love her children, to hasten to the world to love each other, to hasten to the world to love the things she loves.

And they will all be teachers, and they will teach the children with whom they shall be entrusted, they will teach them to love each other, to leave not a single one behind.

They will teach them in kindergarten, to pair off and draw paintings of each other with crayons. The children will look into each other’s eyes, and count the freckles on each other’s cheeks and they will draw pictures of each other, with crayons and paper and in their minds.

And they will switch the parings, so that each one spends some hours in the eyes of every other. And at the end of the year they will each carry home 20 painted pictures of their friends.

And the teacher’s shall free the children from all fate that might have otherwise been forced upon them. The children will learn to choose their own names and their own beliefs and their own religions. They will understand that they are all in this together, that all they have is trust, that if God exists she is very beautiful and that even if she does not they do awaken in a world to find themselves entrusted with each other.

And they will keep drawing pictures of each other, in every grade thereafter. They will learn each other’s names and learn of each other’s lives, not a single one left behind. And they will keep drawing pictures of each other, when they meet in colleges and places of work, they will get to know each other. They will learn to know each other’s eyes and when they get older they might cry when they show these pictures to their grandchildren telling them it has been so long since I have seen her eyes on mine.