How I prayed through tragedy when my dad was killed

A Christian Science perspective: An offer of comfort to families after the Sandy Hook shootings.

When I got the phone call that my dad and his friend had been killed in a senseless accident, my life and that of my mother and my brothers and sisters changed forever. Three of my siblings were in elementary school at the time.

As we gathered in front of the family room television, images of my dad’s body being removed from wreckage flashed on the screen. We were horrified. And then suddenly the station switched to a commercial, and the unfeeling blast of business as usual was also an incredible shock to us. Never did I imagine that such a violation of my home, at such a vulnerable time, could occur. The wound to my family was deep and raw.

A news video on the Sandy Hook shootings posted on the Internet and interrupted by video ads – the kind you can’t click to close but must wait out to the end – brought forth a deep protest and an upwelling of love from my heart for the families involved.

It also brought forward the deep gratitude I have for the Bible and for the textbook of Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy. The Bible says, “Now we see through a glass, darkly” (I Corinthians 13:12). But I am grateful that through the clear spiritual reasoning as explained in Science and Health, media images such as these or the ones that entered my home previously no longer have a paralyzing grip on me.

When your heart is torn apart as mine was and when someone you love to hug and hold, make jokes with, and go to for advice, seems to be gone forever, it’s easy to see only the dark picture. Many dear and caring individuals, including my Christian Science teacher and many friends, helped me open my eyes to see that media images and, even more radically, any mortal picture of ourselves are truly fleeting and flickering shadows. My understanding was growing that true existence is spiritual, impelled by God, and it cannot be destroyed. Science and Health states, “For right reasoning there should be but one fact before the thought, namely, spiritual existence” (p. 492).

Cherishing children, my siblings and the tender ones killed in Newtown, Conn., I find strength in the Bible’s statement, “Little children, let no man deceive you” (I John 3:7). Throughout my life there have been times when I’ve had to grapple again with losing my dad. But I now feel more at peace and more secure than ever on the solid ground of understanding that God loves us and that we and those who are no longer with us on earth exist forever as His loved children. And we are never deprived of this love.

Once while I was sitting on a ladder hooking Christmas lights to the roof, I was tempted to give up on life. I had my cellphone in my pocket, and I called a Christian Science practitioner instead. He spoke to me very tenderly, and his patient caring released me from forcing myself to be happy, and rather to listen and look in a quieter way for God’s presence. When I did, I started hearing and feeling truly heartfelt inspirations that healed and changed my perspective and vision of being. They revived my heart with warm, living love.

When I think of the malicious evil that influenced the Newtown shooter, or the gross and arrogant ignorance that motivated the man without a license to fly a plane near my dad, it’s easy to believe that evil is indeed a power in our world. But my life has been saved and transformed – by nullifying the effects of evil, bit by bit, conversation by conversation, prayer by prayer. My family is thriving now. Nothing is the same as it was, but it is good. And this good is going on for all right here, right now. I have found this to be true: “Ye are of God, little children, ... greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).

God loves all children, including you and me, my dad, and the 20 little ones from the Sandy Hook first grade and the adults who were killed that day.

I recently saw a tall strapping father striding down the street of a busy shopping area, firmly gripping the hand of his little son. I feel God’s firm grip on me and on all as we walk along the path of life. I agree with the writer in the Bible who shared, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (III John 1:4).

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