He is just a little guy, his feet not even touching the floor as he sits between two larger altar servers. I could not help but notice his feet swinging back and forth as he did his best to pay attention to what Father Bill was saying from the pulpit last Sunday.
But it was just eight days before Christmas and I'm sure the little guy's thoughts were on Santa and a Christmas list. It was the simple innocence of that kid whose biggest worry of the day was not tripping on his altar robe that caught my attention. And that's the way it should have been for 20 school-aged children who died Dec. 14 at the hands of a disturbed young man.
While we listened, Father Bill was doing his best to help us feel joy in the world two days after so many little ones and six adults were murdered in what they thought was a safe place - their school.
The experts have attempted to find reason in the unspeakable murders, but even their best philosophical explanations have fallen short. As Father Bill said, we may never know why such things happen other than evil replaced good at that particular moment. On Sunday all over the country, men and women of the cloth struggled to find the words to give us comfort when fear and anger melded in our hearts.
Eight days have passed since the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. In that space of time we have learned their names, seen their families weep and watched a country pull together to offer prayers and hope.
People are asking how many of these types of things have to happen before we do something to prevent the next one.
The truth is there are no guarantees in life. A friend recalled that she had a portrait taken with her whole family, including her aging mother. She thought it might be the last family portrait with her mom in the picture. Sadly, it was the final portrait taken with her college-aged daughter in the photo. She was killed in a tragic mishap soon after the picture was taken.
That's the irony of life. Just when you think you have it figured out, something happens to throw us out of kilter. And no amount of faith, time or money adequately prepares us for those sad times. We are a resilient group in this country, but I will admit it's getting tougher to accept some of the things we have witnessed in the news business. Just when you think you've seen it all, you haven't.
That same drive to bring our readers the gut-wrenching facts also makes us want to offer a balance of good news. It's almost Christmas. A joyous time as Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ Child.
For the sake of your own children, your friends, co-workers and yourselves, I challenge you to find joy in some corner of your life and share it with someone this Christmas season. Lean on one another. Let the heroes of goodness dominate our headlines in 2013. Please, have a safe and merry Christmas.
Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.