Searching the Sky

I remembered the planetary parade while the kids brushed their teeth, so we grabbed coats piled into the car wearing pajamas. At the beach, red, orange, and yellow bands decorated the horizon in the wake of the sun. Along with the waxing moon hanging above us, we were able to spot four of the five planets on display that night–Mars, Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter. We enjoyed the challenge of searching the sky, and it was also exciting to do something out of the ordinary (my husband said it was the most spontaneous I’ve been since we took an impromptu trip to Chicago in 2009).

After tucking the kids into bed that night, I kept thinking about the six celestial bodies brightly on display…the day after six people were killed in yet another school shooting. I had spent much of the day vacillating between grief and rage, frustrated by another act of violence taking innocent lives. But I ended my day in awe and wonder, quietly staring at the heavens, squinting into the distance with my son as he pointed out two of the planets I hadn’t seen yet. My chest hurt from the pain and the beauty, from trying to carry it all in one day, all in one body.

The thing is, I think it has to be carried together. We see the violence and the tragedy and we have to absorb it and acknowledge it in order to work sufficiently to fix it. We see the moon and the stars and the planets and we have to stop and stare upward. We need to feel tiny and humbled and overcome; we need to experience those moments that bring our humanity bursting to the surface, the moments that insist we acknowledge our Creator. These are the moments we’re fighting for. Because one day, maybe my kid will be a scientist, inspired by the nights she spent outside gazing at the planets and stars. Maybe my kids will bond over their memory of the one time I was #funmom and let them go to the beach after bedtime. Maybe they will visit a planetarium on a field trip and remember how it felt to see that show in the boundless sky. But only if they survive.

I didn’t have many words this week, but I took the few I had and strung them together into a paragraph, which I sent to my senators and representative. I voiced my concerns as a citizen and a parent, and I asked them to support a ban on assault weapons. Did I also pray? Yes. I prayed for peace for the families and friends who lost loved ones this week, for those who lose loved ones every day. I prayed for the parents who bury children too soon. And I also prayed for  those of us who haven’t lost loved ones to gun violence: I prayed we would search our consciences as fervently as we search the sky, that bloodshed would capture our attention as much as the planets on parade and demand a response. I prayed we won’t feel peace until we have done enough to stop this insanity. Let our hearts stay troubled. Let them break. Let us not bury our anger with our dead.

Ready to respond?
-Find your representative by zip code here.
-Contact your senators here.
-Join Moms Demand Action.

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2 thoughts on “Searching the Sky

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