Tony Woodlief | Author

Hell and Christmas

There is nothing to be done but weep. Cry out for the children with bodies shattered, for the ones covered in blood not their own, for the ones who didn’t die instantly. Cry out for those who fell protecting them. Cry out for the parents in their waiting. Cry out for sisters and brothers. Cry out for the little ones who heard the popping, who were led down a hall and told: close your eyes, childrenhold hands and close your eyes.

We weep not nearly long enough, and then we give ourselves over to anger. May the boy with the guns roast in eternal agony. May the entire membership of the NRA follow close behind. Throw in every quack psychiatrist and libertarian who facilitates loonies walking our streets. There’s still room in hell—there’s always room when we are the gatekeepers—so stuff in behind these the political opportunists, the blow-dried journalists interviewing traumatized children, the father of the boy with the guns, his brother for good measure, the man who sold the guns, and whoever designed the school locks. Burn them all, burn them all.

Jesus Christ. I said this all day long. Jesus Christ. All those children. Christ have mercy. I said it as a curse and as a plea. I was driving and I wept until I could barely see the road. What else can you do?

I know something of burying a child in the frozen earth. I knew it was coming, and I could be there when she died. These mothers and fathers sent their babies off to school to color pictures and learn the alphabet. Many of them can’t even see the bullet-torn bodies now. Christ, what a world. Jesus Christ.

Twenty children will go into the ground there this week. How does the earth receive them all, and not cry out? Sweet Christ, come soon. We weep because there is nothing else to be done but weep and wait.

Perhaps I am wrong. Maybe the politicians and pundits will fix things up nicely. We’ll pass laws and issue proclamations. We’ll imagine that what’s gone wrong here was a glitch in the machinery. We’ll fix the system and then we can stop our weeping, because something has been done. Something had been done by the hands of man and so man can tell himself that he is well, that his heart is not sickened unto death.

The world has come undone, and you and I know it. Maybe our politicians and professors and even our preachers have forgotten how to talk about it, but we know it all the same. This world is coming undone because it is a world of men, and because there is something more to man than sinew and synapse. There is a soul, and it is a darkened and dying thing.

It’s a hell of a thing to happen so close to Christmas. Then again, we used to have enough wisdom to prepare for Christmas with mourning. Whether it’s truth or myth to you, the story of a baby born for slaughter ought to give pause. The truth or myth of man is that his heart has turned black, and the blood of innocents is spilled as a consequence. Christ have mercy.

Greet your Christmas, then, with mourning. Mourn for those poor, godforsaken parents. And take hope, if you will, from a vision of twenty little ones entering heaven. Take hope in the hope that there is a world coming that even man cannot defile.

On Key

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