Saturday night, Dec. 6th, 8 p.m. I’m decorating cookies and watching “Elf” with some friends and my upstairs neighbors when I get a text from my neighbor one block west: “Oh my gosh! Eight gunshots. Did you hear that?” I hadn’t heard it. Between the blare of the TV and the laughter of friends, I’d been distracted and insulated. I missed it.
Monday night, Dec. 8th, 8:30 p.m. I’m reading “Harry Potter” and sipping decaf on my couch, when I hear it. BANG! BANG! …BANG! BANG! BANG! I call 911 to report shots fired, just southeast of my house, it sounds like. An email thread of several families in the neighborhood erupts yet again with fear and frustration. Another shooting in Uptown Crossing during the season of “peace on earth, goodwill toward men.”
Wide-eyed, pulse-thumping emails fire back and forth like gunshots exchanged on the corner.
“I saw a car stopped in the alley, looked suspicious.”
“There were footprints by my car door when I walked outside this morning. Can’t be anything good.”
“Maybe we should look in to security cameras for that corner. Seems to be a lot of trouble over there.”
But in this holiday season, I can’t help but be mindful of the fact that you see in life what you are looking for. Greed or charity; violence or peace.
A man in a hooded sweatshirt crept up my driveway yesterday. I live by a high school, so it’s not uncommon for young men and women to cut through my yard on their way to or from school. I didn’t recognize this man though, and he didn’t look young enough to be from the high school, so I kept watching him from the window.
Up the driveway, past my car, he took hold of my garbage can and pulled it to the curb, ready for pick up the next morning. Then he went on to the next house and did the same, and then the house after that. Moving garbage cans for our block.
In a season this year bursting with sweetness of celebration and tradition, mixed inextricably with the bitterness of sorrow and injustice and centuries old wounds ripped open afresh, may we be mindful of what we’re looking for. May we never turn a blind eye to the pain, the brokenness, the hurt. But may we ever have eyes and hearts tuned to notice the good, the generous and the beautiful wherever it may be creeping.