Skip to main content

Sunshine Within Shadow

The murder of five Amish girls last week stunned the world. The event highlights yet once more the importance of tending to mental illnesses, too often left untended until physical violence reveals their presence and their depth. It showed us that the land of the free is now, is still, the land of the vulnerable. In her excellent report in Newsweek magazine on the shooting aftermath, Susannah Meadows reveals some details that initial broadcasts did not.

The Amish community requested that a fund be established to help the Roberts family, knowing that Roberts' wife and children have a double grief to bear, and a "shame by association" that they cannot help or change. From the moment the tragedy happened, the Amish community so brutally attacked has consistently spoken of forgiveness--in the face of the greatest loss known to human kind, that of losing a child.

When deranged gunman Charles Roberts entered the school house with his cable ties and guns, the two eldest Amish girls immediately volunteered to be shot first, in the hope that their friends' and sisters' lives would be spared. One was thirteen, the other twelve.

Knowing these details silences me, instructs me, challenges me. It is knowledge that shapes my world and my response to it, yes, even more than the "bombs in the news."

One of my favorite Amish quilt patterns is Sunshine and Shadow (shown above), where squares of cloth create a magnificent interplay of light and dark, where stillness begins to become movement, weaving in and out of the rays of life we often miss. Deep inside the shadow of evil revealed last week, the Amish community proved its light to the world.

We live in a time where all too often what passes for the practice of Christianity is strident politics, judgmental and prejudicial actions, and the attitude that Christianity is about "winning:" its "rewards" range from righteousness to riches. Just last night on a cable shopping channel, the announcer described the cross as "a powerful, emotional symbol and a great fashion statement."

Dressed in utter counterpoint to the fashion of the day, not likely to have worn any jewelry at all, a twelve-year-old girl offered to die--to die--for others, without hesitation. The parents and grandparents of dead children and grandchildren, who steer clear of media, quietly and privately offered forgiveness to their children's murderer, and prayed for the relief of the assassin's family. While this is Christian practice at its most courageous, the Amish community's actions transcend whatever we have come to call "religion" and are a testament to the divinity that humanity can achieve, whatever one's spiritual practice may be.

I ask myself, Do I have the courage to create Sunshine at the depth of Shadow? To, as Tagore wrote, "light my lamp and never debate if it will help to remove the darkness?"


*

Image above from Amish Country Quilts.
For a nice sampling of authentic Amish Quilts, see their web site.
Text, copyright 2006, Ysabel de la Rosa. All rights reserved.

Comments

deCinabre said…
It seems to me, Ysabel, that your lamp is already lit.
Y la tuya, también. Mi madre siempre decía "hay que ser para reconocer", o en inglés, "It takes one to know one."
deCinabre said…
I just read this and thought it apposite:
"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Dylan Thomas
Yes! Your comment makes me see that poem in a new way.

Popular posts from this blog

Life without Television, Part 2

I began life without television with relief, which was consistent Monday through Friday. The first few weekends, though, felt awkward, anxious, lonely. When PBS has good programming on Saturday nights, it is extraordinarily good. Father Brown, Phryne Fisher, New Tricks... Extraordinary acting, high production values, and I fantasize about the pudgy, brilliant priest just perhaps having an innocent crush on one of his special parishioners, which would be moi. 

I called a friend one Sunday. "Maybe television helped with my anxiety more than I realized," I said. She told me about her aunt who, after her husband's death, kept the television on in his "man cave" 24/7. He has been gone years now. The television goes on, everlasting, in his absence. I don't blame her. Much of my frequent and prolonged television viewing began with grief.

After my sister died, I would watch almost anything, especially late at night when sleep eluded me. I even watched Convoy with …

Our Texas, My Texas: "Memories we carry like scars and diamonds"

This post title includes a quote from Hermine Pinson's poem, "Four Sisters and the Dance." As you read, it will become clear why.

I was 7 when my father earned his Ph.D. from Duke. He then accepted a teaching position at a small private college in a rural Texas town in the 1960s. Population was 5,000, give or take a few. Our Texas roots ran deep, and we saw this return to the Lone Star State as a homecoming. So, I left the lyrical landscape of the Carolinas and the small private school where I had become nearly fluent in French. Then, I entered the hot, dry world of that small town. 

We did not yet have a place to live. Our family of five, including our infant brother, camped out in the girls' dorm for several weeks. Our furniture was stored on the university theater stage while my parents searched for a home. I was riding in the car with my dad and a member of the university administration and overheard their conversation. My father wondered where he could find help …

Thank you, Press Women!

My blog won first place in personal blog writing for 2014 in the Press Women of Texas's Communications Contest. Afterward, my blog placed second in personal blog writing nationwide in the National Federation of Press Women's Communications Contest. I can't adequately tell you what these awards mean to me, but I feel impelled to try.
From the NFPW website:
On May 6, 1937, 39 women from seven states gathered at the Chicago Women's Club to turn their vision into reality. They formed the National Federation of Presswomen (yes, then it was one word) and set forth their goals: "To provide a means of communication between woman writers nationally; make possible the expression of a common voice in matters of national interest to press women, and otherwise advance the professional standards of press women."

It was brave enough for women to found such an organization in any decade prior to 1970, but this group was founded at the height of the Great Depression. It grew to …