Newtown, and a Thousand Losses, One Year Later

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Founder & Teacher,

Last year on December 14, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, twenty first-graders and six educators were killed by Adam Lanza, who then shot himself. This Saturday marks one year.

Most of these wounds are still open. Even where the gaping gash is closed, the surrounding flesh is so tender that the slightest bump brings tears. And in this, these empty arms represent millions.

For many of us, the wounds stay tender to the end of life. My mother’s death 39 years ago this week can easily bring tears to my eyes. The wound is healed. I don’t look at the scar very often. But the flesh is tender, and the right touch presses sweet tears from the eyes.

Mark Your Calendar

Here is a simple exhortation for all of us who know someone with fresh wounds of loss or with such half-healed scars. Mark your calendar for one year out, or five years out, and on the one-year or five-year (or twenty-five-year) anniversary of the loss, send a note to the wounded with words of love and memory and thanks and empathy and hope.

There are a few people in my life who have done this for me for decades. It amazes me. It gives me great joy at being loved. It gives life to the ones who died and yet live. It touches the wound with tender lips. It knits our souls together. It opens eternity.

Newtown, We Remember

So by all means, let funerals be as deep and rich and compassionate with Christ as they can possibly be. But let them also be the day when you open your calendar and make an appointment with yourself for one year in the future (or five or ten) to write or call those who have lost. Their arms will still be empty of that one beloved.

This blog post is a kind of public example of what I’m talking about.

Newtown, we remember. We still feel. We pray that Jesus Christ will come to your homes this Christmas. There is none like him for healing. None. Because he was

Perfected through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10)

Despised and rejected. (Isaiah 53:3)

Ready to be wounded. (Isaiah 53:5)

Enduring anguish. (Isaiah 53:11)

Poured out in death. (Isaiah 53:12)

Raised to help. (Romans 14:7–9)

No one suffered more. And his was a gift. The greatest Christmas gift ever. It really is a gift. Free.