“The sacred is not in heaven or far away. It is all around us, and small human rituals can connect us to its presence.”
— Alma Luz Villanueva
By the time Karate class rolled around Monday evening, I was still dazed. The day before — June 12, 2016 — my kids wanted to know why the parents were so sad. I told them I was crying for a really big group of people who had died in the night: fifty people. We got out their blocks to count and see what fifty looked like. We all agreed that fifty was an awful lot. I set one block aside and explained that one person had killed the others with a gun.
"Why? Who were they?" the kids wanted to know. They’re like us, I said, and different too. They were Latinx like your aunt and cousins; queer like your parents; Black like our neighbors; Muslim like your uncle; Trans like some of our friends. They were moms and dads and parents and sons and daughters and beloved adult children, siblings, partners, and friends.
I asked if they wanted to send good wishes to the people who died. My son slid the separated block back over to be with the other 49. "Yes, let’s send good wishes." So we did.
The next day, I wasn’t surprised when the mom of one of my daughter’s friends plopped down on the bench next to me during karate. Julia and her husband were always at the dojo with their son. But I was surprised when she handed me a small paper plate, heaped high with homemade mini muffins, secured with cling wrap.
I laughed for the first time in nearly two days. “Thanks. What’s this for?” I asked.
Julia’s eyes were red. “I just didn’t know what else to do,” she said.
What DO we do in the face of evil? Anything. Everything. Pray, protest, bake, hug, grieve, wail, laugh, explain, linger, research, fight, cry. What we absolutely must not do is ignore it.
On the way to the car, my daughter asked, “Why did Ms. Julia make us muffins?”
"Because she loves us,” I explained, “just the way we are.”
"Love is the most important thing,” she affirmed.
When you don’t know what to do, do the next thing with love.
Spirit of Life and Love, keep my hands busy with kindness when I just don’t know what to do. Open me to all the small things, each a reminder that even the Big Love is built from pixels and pebbles.