While the Paris nightmare was going on last weekend I was safe in Los Angeles with my son Caleb and my daughter-in-law Kameron and my little grandchildren Avery and Austin. It was the weekend of Avery’s 6th birthday and we all had such a nice time together.
I caught glimpses of the terrorist attack on my phone and here and there on television. Late at night before I went to sleep I would check the Internet on my phone to see the latest details. My heart was broken by the tragedies in Paris. So many people killed on a lovely Friday evening while sitting in bistros and cafes or attending a concert or the theater. I thought of how precarious life is, and how fragile. I thought of all of those who didn’t get to go home to their loved ones that night. And the many still severely wounded and hospitalized. The agony of it all, the loss, is still with me.
In the meantime I was surrounded by love. Caleb and Austin picked me up from the airport Thursday and as I got into the car I heard Austin’s gravely little laugh and felt his warm hugs. Later that afternoon I went with Caleb to pick Avery up from school and felt her fall into my arms, so innocent and sweet, skipping happily to the car and chatting away that she got two jelly beans from her teacher, awards for something I never quite figured out, but praised her for anyway. That’s what granddads do.
On Friday I laughed with Caleb and Kameron over drinks and dinner that night while the kiddos slept snug in their beds at home with Carmen their nanny watching over them, a loving nurturing woman with a charismatic smile. An immigrant from Mexico. Someone who has endured the hard struggle of assimilation into another country. None of us had any idea that faraway in France people were being murdered in the streets.
On Saturday we walked in the California sun and reveled in the goodness of life. We celebrated Avery’s birthday with a band of screaming little girls oblivious to terrorists and hate and how cruel the world can sometimes be. I met their parents, good kind people, solid and decent and loving. There was cake and munchies, games and laughter, easy conversations and the joy of celebration.
That is how life should be for all of us. The closeness of family. The delight that comes from being with friends. The gentleness of children. The symmetry of fall with its changing colors and the arrival of chilly nights reminding us how lovely the earth is.
And yet, there remains the reality of terrorism, of seething hostility from people in places near and far. Often without our slightest awareness abominable things are happening to others. The awareness of these horrors eventually breaks into the routine movements of our lives and we realize how dangerous the world can be, how incomplete we all are in our humanity.
The flood of people trying to escape the brutality of war and its atrocities fills me with sadness. So many people displaced with nowhere to go. Can you imagine? I cannot. How can we as a country say to no to refugees from Syria or other war torn places where their daily lives know nothing about birthday celebrations or warm family gatherings, where there is no longer the meaningful routine of work, of traditions, or even the sacredness of safety?
I want to live in a country of generosity, in a nation of people who are willing to take in the hurting and the frightened from dreadful places plagued by war and violence and devouring evil. I want America to act with grandeur, with grace, to demonstrate over and over again compassion unparalleled across the globe.
I and most of you reading this are so fortunate. We live our comfortable lives enveloped in love with people who care about us. We have plenty to eat. We entertain ourselves easily and often. We have a cozy place we call home where there is food and drink and a warm bed. So many today have so much less. Here, and around the world.
I’m rambling, I know. My thoughts today are with my kids, with the people of Paris, with our president. I feel a bit unmoored, restless, aching for our world, and our own country. Where is the simple kindness toward others that keeps us sane and human? I long for that today. I want people everywhere to be safe today. I want love to win.
© 2015 Timothy Moody