I lit a few candles yesterday. Reading the gruesome report of the events in Peshawar had me rattled. Two days prior I was hanging little ornaments on my tree in memory of each person killed in Newtown, MA and now 148 lives were gone at the hands of the Taliban. Children and teachers were shamelessly killed.
My daughter walked out to a dim kitchen and she knew right away.
“Pakistan mom?” I nodded as she sat down to join me and we stared at the candles hoping the light was strong enough.
My son had a different response.“Candles mom? How will that help?” He had questions, lots of questions, and so finally I pulled up a recent news article and we read it together and my candles did nothing for him.
His eyes filled with tears. “I’m scared, mom. School should not be scary.”
I did not correct him.
“Things like that don’t happen here” would have been my response a few years back. Maybe we don’t have the Taliban and the US remains largely a much safer place to be educated than in many places around the world yet uncertainty has now crept into our haven as well.
For once I did not know how to comfort him.
After a bit I reminded him of one of our favorite books The Three Questions based on a Tolstoy fable. In the book a panda named Stillwater is trying to teach a friend how to determine who the most important person is, what time is the best, and what actions are the right ones to take. Through some experience he learns the most important time is now, the most important person is the one you are with, and the most important action is the kindest one.
And so that is what I tried to tell him.
“So Bug, right now I am feeling helpless. I can light this candle and send my thoughts towards people far away. I can show you I care by listening to your concerns even though I have no answers."
He wasn't completely satisfied, but his gaze drifted toward the candle. He took my hand and we sat there lost in our unsettled thoughts together.