I don't think I have ever been as glad to see them. The very sight of them made my heart skip a beat. Their presence on this Sunday morning churned up the depth of my love for them, reminded me of how precious they are, how innocent they are, and, in this world in which we live, how fragile they are as they attempt to navigate through the good and the bad of this world. Seeing them brought to the surface the tension that is part of our modern life.
Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, is but a short drive down the road from where those two grandsons live. They skipped down the aisle of my church just two days after twenty children, only two years older than the four-and-a-half year old, were gunned down by a deranged killer. The Governor of Connecticut made the comment that Evil had come to visit that New England village that day. And Evil visited too close, way too close, to where my grand kids live. They are too young to become acquainted with the horrors of this world. And, yet, there it was: Evil wrecking havoc in my grandchildren's neighborhood.
I preached my sermon; the worship ended, and those two grandchildren, my daughter-in-love, and Uncle Edward headed to a local restaurant. It was a good lunch, with lots of laughter and teasing. We colored the pictures on the table mats at the restaurant. And, because I was there, it was okay to have a lunch of pancakes and scrambled eggs, both smothered in maple syrup, and a chocolate fudge sundae.
I watched those kids having fun with me. I watched their glimpses toward their mother whenever they realized I was offering a departure from normal behavior. And, as I watched, I thought of a teacher sheltering children in a closet as gunshots reverberated down the hallway. I remember the news reports that she made a concerted effort to have each child look into her eyes as she said, “I love you. I love you.” She was sure they were going to die and she wanted them to die knowing they were loved.
So, I told my grandsons I love them. It's all I can do. In a short while they will return to that place where they live, down the road where Evil walked and spread Evil's destruction. I can tell them I love them. And I tell them that because I am convinced that love can overcome evil.
I can react to the shootings in a childish way by demanding there be more guns. Or I can react with a childlike faith, the childlike quality seen in my grandchildren, a faith that recognizes the goodness of this world and holds fast to the belief that in the end Evil will be defeated by Love.