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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.


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.

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