Everywhere I read lately, people have written in relation to the unthinkable tragedy that occurred last week at the Sandy Hook Elementary. Some wrote of the reassuring message that those children were now in the joy of their Savior’s arms. Some are trying to bring beauty to ashes by encouraging us to each do 26 acts of kindness in memory of the twenty children plus the adults that were killed that day. That is what I am trying to do.
Unfortunately, some seized the event for their own political agendas. But this is not about that.
I work at a school that had a wonderful answer, though it was not planned to coordinate with the tragedy. Each child brought a teddy bear—one that could be given to a child in crisis that needed something to hug. I’ve seen such gifts cherished by children who were dealing with a life suddenly too big to understand. These bears will go to a shelter for families that found themselves in need of a home—single, beaten-down moms and wide-eyed, often silent, children. I’ve seen a child hold to such a bear or animal in a moment when they needed a desperate hug.
Some of the children at the school who brought bears had held bake sales or other fund-raisers and purchased multiple bears with the proceeds of their efforts, rather than have mom or dad just pick one up for them at the store. All the bears were piled in the main hall of the school where three Christmas trees had been set up. Through the weeks the bears piled up, many stuffed into the branches of the trees amid the ribbon and poinsettias.
There were a few surprises.
Then the last day of school, after the classes gathered for the “school sing”, the children lined the halls. From the youngest kindergarten child nearest the tree,
down two long halls, the grades increasing and the children getting taller,
and ending with the senior grades.
Then the bears were passed.
Down each line, from child to child. Each child hugged each bear before handing it off.
Each bear received hundreds of hugs along their journey. These bears, carefully chosen, diligently earned, and cheerfully placed, were now being given away with love over-flowing.
And that is how we heal our nation. We reach out, sacrifice a bit of what we have to give, we teach our children to have hearts filled with righteousness, and we fill their lives with love.
If there is righteousness in the heart,
There will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character,
There will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home,
There will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
There will be peace in the world.
So let it be.