Yesterday, I was standing in the candle aisle at Home Goods when I heard a voice call out a name. The moment I heard the woman speak, I knew she was calling a child’s name. By the third time she repeated the name, I heard the “voice.” Without saying a word, I immediately stepped into aisle and began to walk quickly towards the front of the store looking for a child…because I know that voice. It is a voice that has come out of my own mouth and not only did it get my attention but it caused me to move quickly…because I know that voice.
As soon as I stepped into the aisle, I noticed a lady with two small kids and I heard “the voice” come out of her mouth. As she moved toward me repeating the name, I saw other women moving and looking because they had also recognized the voice. In a matter of seconds, we moved without saying a word looking for a missing child who suddenly appeared out of nowhere with a cart for her mom.
And just as we heard the voice summon us, we heard the voice of finding the lost child and we all exhaled the breaths that we’d been holding. As four or five women stood there in this moment, we acknowledged the voice that had reached us and reactivated memories of a similar experience in our own lives when we had lost our child. With only a few words, we spoke to what had just happened and how we all heard the same voice that had come out of us in our own moments of terror.
As I was driving home thinking about the events at the store and how I had lost my own child and found him, I thought about the interviews with the parents of the children killed at Robb Elementary School. It seemed that as I watched and listened to them, I was somewhat unable to feel or know what they were feeling. I recalled that as sad and heartbroken as I felt when listening to them that something was missing and I was unable to register that level of devastation in my own body and heart. I wondered if I needed to hear the interviews again so I could listen more closely.
I asked, “How could it be that I could hear the parents from Robb Elementary School express so much heartfelt sorrow but I could not hear them like I had heard the voice at the store when it uttered just one name?” As I pondered over this, I begin to realize that the only reason I heard the voice in the store was because I know the voice of a parent frantically looking for a child. But what I have not heard and why I could not feel what the parents, whose children had been killed, were feeling and weep with them at the depth of their weeping was because I have not known the voice that rises out of the complete loss of a child.
And to be honest I was relieved.
If the reason why I could not feel the devastation and loss that these parents were feeling and I could not hear the sounds coming out of their mouths was because I did not know that voice, then I must confess that I don’t want to ever know that voice. I don’t want to know how that voice is produced in a body. Even more, I don’t want to know the grief and devastation that it takes to make a pitch and tone that only registers with those who have known those sounds.
And as sure as I weep with those who weep and feel deep sadness for the murdering of innocent children, I now realize that I am somewhat deaf and numb to their voices… because I do not know this voice. Since this voice is a voice that you don’t know until it has risen out of the depths of your own soul and will forever be in you. It is a voice that will never again silently pass through you but it will land in you…because you know that voice. It has been formed in your body, cut a new path up your throat and come forth out your mouth.
Hence, I can only imagine that out of these tragedies that many of you, who know that voice, have heard the voice and responded to the voice. It is with great sadness that I believe you have been forgotten and overlooked. I must confess that in my own anger, I have turned my thoughts, more often than not, to challenging the commentary on guns and I have not thought about you. For my ignorance and arrogance, I am truly sorry. I want you to know that today I am praying for you-my brothers and sisters- who know the voice and have heard the call over the past few weeks.
I am praying for help, for the comforter to come through the people who love and know you. I am praying for the people who have gathered around you to weep and mourn.
I am praying that you will be deaf to the voices who are speaking such ridiculous nonsense because they are deaf and numb to the voice that you hear. I pray that you will forgive us for not checking in on you and not offering ourselves to you. I pray that in this moment you will hear the voice of Love vibrating through many- to say “Come and rest.” I pray that you have come to know that voice better than any voice and that you will be comforted and cared for in the midst of being undone again.
Though I may not hear the voice you have heard call out to you and that now binds you to these tragedies, I do know you are there and are with these parents in spirit, heart, mind and body. I know these voices have called you back to your moment of unspeakable trauma and devastation, and in these moments I am praying for the One, who also knows the voice and is perfectly attuned to your voice, will be with you as you weep with those who now weep like you have wept and you mourn with those who now mourn like you have mourned.
I pray that you will know that your voice has been heard by the One who knows your voice and always moves to help his children who he loves more than anything in this world.