|Children being led past their dead friends, told to keep their eyes closed|
I have been impatient with the advice coming from ministers and Buddhist teachers that we all sit deeply with this grief, because I'm not hearing people say, "Now get to work." To my mind came something I once read said by Zen Teacher Bernie Glassman. He and his students were meditating every morning in the overgrown schoolyard of an abandoned school. He said, as I recall, Meditation is a luxury; I could do it all day. But there is work to be done. So they just meditated for 20 or 30 minutes. Then he and his students began cutting back the weeds that were shielding dealers selling drugs to children.
This is the moment when something can happen in America that can prevent these tragedies. Here is a link to an article with the headline "Gun Backlash Begins." As well it might. It is our job to remember, to insist that the backlash goes on.
I went to Michael's craft store today and bought black grosgrain ribbon and tiny safety pins. I am making a black ribbon to wear until - I am not sure. I am not putting it aside to celebrate. I intend to wear it on my red-and-green plaid Christmas shirt at least until the turn of the year. Then I'll think about it. I'm very awkward with hand sewing, so I don't know how many more I'll make, but I'd like to have some to give away if somebody wants one.
The poet William Blake - another madman, by the way - wrote this phrase: "Joy and woe are woven fine." One of Roshi Glassman's main teachings is Bearing Witness to the suffering in life. This is why he leads retreats at Auschwitz. We need to keep remembering those 20 children and six adults who were murdered by an unhappy young man with his mother's guns, guns she had taught him to use. We need to think about how far and wide the tragedy of these deaths spreads, how many lives are irrevocably stained by it.
I would be interested in hearing from some of you who don't live in America, how you see this, whether you see America as a violent nation. May we be free from danger.