On a still, March morning, I ran upstairs for a moment while my 18-month-old son played downstairs. I left him playing with trains and a bouncy ball. In my brief absence, he crawled under our glass coffee table to retrieve a ball and tried to stand up. The 60 pound weight of the glass proved too much for his tiny frame, and he reacted by hunching back down to a crawl. The glass descended at an angle and shattered into hundreds of pieces. Crash!
I missed all of the stairs in my flight to get to him as his scream echoed against the walls. He was sitting in a pile of glass with his arms reaching up to me. I couldn’t get to him fast enough. Tiny shards rested on his shoulders, and it looked like sprinkled confetti in his hair. Large blocks of sliced glass lay inches from him.
This happened nearly 13 years ago, but it reminds me of how quickly peace shatters. One second you’re trying to grab a ball. The next second the world stops and you wonder how to pick up the pieces to put peace back together.
We received a safety message from one of my children’s schools this morning. They were “investigating a report from a student who overheard concerning language at [the] school.” My phone rings. It’s a parent informing me of more details and that kids were going home. Wait, what? Our school? I talk to another parent. Same thing. I turn on my car and head to the school.
I dropped my child off an hour before without an ounce of fear. I told her to have a good day, I would be praying for her, and as she shut the car door prayed a silent prayer for protection, wisdom, grace and kindness. Fear makes a nasty root and builds an ugly tree, and this is how I take my daily ax to fight and poison it.
And here I am returning to the same parking lot and notice the police car.
Concerned parents roll in with me, and I sign my daughter out. I meet the assistant principal and the principal who handle the chaos well and give us assurance and more information. Most of us mamas needed to come ourselves.
She arrives in the office and wonders why I’m there. Hmm. Did you forget I’m your mama bear?! Always have been. Always will be.
She reiterates what the principals and police officer told me, and says she’d like to stay. No fear in her eyes or those handling the situation. I needed to hear it and see it myself.
I sign her back in and wonder if it’s the right decision to let her stay. Peace shattered. I can’t sit in this place with shards all around as fear slithers in. Like a stained glass window, I’ve got to replace this broken, faceted peace: piece by piece. Where do you even start? There are moments in all of our lives when the fractures of this world and in our lives cry out for Peace, especially as we enter this Christmas season.
“Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does he sleep (peace on earth, peace on earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men …
Do you hear the bells they’re ringing? (peace on earth)
The life the angels singing (peace on earth)
Open up your heart and hear them (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men.” – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
For today, in this moment, I’ll start here: I’ll trust my children in the hands of Jesus, never stop being a mama bear, and tune my ears and heart to hear the loud and deep bells of Peace.
Before I leave her, I tell her once again to have a good day and I’d be praying for her, give her an extra tight hug, and as I walk out the building I pray the same silent prayer: for protection, wisdom, grace and kindness. And I feel every ounce of the magnitude of the prayer’s weight.