We sit with warm mugs of apple cider and piles of books and fresh pencils this gloriously beautiful, windy late summer morning. As I read from a book to our oldest four and try to explain in appropriate kid verbage what took place 13 years ago on this day, my voice wavers. Last year I remember not saying a thing about it because I had a three day old baby in arms and my heart was plum overflowing and it didn’t seem possible to even go there. So today, I tell them where I was and what happened and why, even though nobody can really say why, there isn’t ever an answer to that question in these impossibly devastating things of life. I talk of terror and war and try to put words to the wonder of the freedom they live within. That they would be able to sit at a table with their teacher/mama and learn together as a family, not having any true need unmet, being able to worship freely and speak their beliefs…its impossible to reconcile it with the terror children on the other side of the world are living in the midst of. To live as a child in such fear and injustice, it makes my whole self hurt.
I whisper because tears are running down my face and they lean in and they don’t make a sound – they can tell this is some piece of sacred by the absolute brokenness of my heart. I want the world to be good and safe and beautiful for you, like it is here much of the time. But its not. There are people so full of evil and hate that only want to destroy and hurt and steal. They take the lives of others simply because they are different, because they believe different or were born in a different land. I hesitate and don’t know if the word genocide is one they all should know yet but I decide they must. They must know. Because if they don’t then how can they pray and care and keep learning that they have constant opportunities to stand with and stand for those who can’t stand or speak for themselves. The empathic one moves around the table and sets her head in my lap. She feels the pain of others in a profound way. Tears well in her eyes and she holds my hand. The children there, they aren’t complaining about the snack options or about the math they still have to do or asking for dessert. They simply want safety, refuge, security and peace. They want their mom to be there tomorrow, and the next day, and all the days after. I choke on my own words and can’t even talk. So we pray. Because there really is nothing else to say. Nothing we can do but pray and believe that the God who holds this whole world and my whole heart can do things beyond human comprehension or ability.
Caleb (age 10) prays first – “I pray for the people who are killing Christians in Iraq, that they would have a change of heart, that they would come to know God. And for the people who have gone to heaven after they have been killed, that they would have such a good time there.” The quiet one in my lap can’t muster a word but I know God hears her precious little heart. I pray and thank God for freedom. Even for a baby whose name means freedom. For the constant reminder she is of the immeasurable gift we’ve been given. For the freedom we live within when we know the one true God, freedom that knows no bounds and cannot, will not be contained or quenched.