I went for a hike on Sunday. I needed to get away, to take to the woods. I don’t know whether it’s a writer thing, or an introvert thing, or what, but like Robert Frost, I sometimes find myself with the need to take to the woods and bask in the silence of trees.
I’ve stopped watching the news, with all the noise and the opinions and the speculation. I did, though, read about the victims. I always do, when something so terrible happens. Because I want to think of them as people, not as symptoms of some larger, societal problem or as tools to promote an agenda. Sometimes I think every time someone reframes the story, the people get lost.
I wanted to acknowledge them as individuals, as human beings with hopes and dreams. A woman whose boyfriend was about to propose. A little boy who wanted to be a paleontologist. A little girl who loved horses. Teachers who put themselves between a gunman and their students. Children who still believed in Santa. Brothers, sisters, daughters, sons.
I thought about them as I walked. I thought about the horribleness in this world, the twenty piles of presents that will be unopened this Christmas. And I thought about the good.
Because even in tragedy, hope lives. And even in sorrow, joy is born.
Even while children were being murdered, new life was entering the world and people were celebrating life’s joys. And even when something huge and wonderful happens, someone is mourning a great loss.
The two are never far apart, sorrow and joy.
I wish we could rail against it, demand that only joy exist here. But darkness lives in this world. I’m not saying we shouldn’t fight it with all our souls, but I know that darkness is a part of this world.
It won’t always be, though. One day darkness will be vanquished. One day all that is twisted and upside-down about this world will be righted.
Until then, we live with hope. Not fear or anger or those other emotions that try to pull us into darkness. But hope—the light that, unlike individual lives, can never be extinguished.