Author’s Note: I wrote this piece originally back in December of 2015 in the wake of the violent attacks at that time, particularly in Paris, but felt that it was appropriate to rework it now, in the hopes that it will give comfort, touch, and encourage others to reach out to even one of the many hurting hearts and souls that are circling around us both at home and abroad.

My Dearest Dears,

2016 has undoubtedly plodded its way forward, often swathed in darkness, anger, pain, and grief. I have mostly avoided writing on all of this darkness because, well, it’s everywhere. Everyone is writing about it and good points have already been made. Outlining and highlighting the darkness is not my job. It is there, undeniable. It is truth, the starkest, coldest truth. The statistics are there, etched and grooved in their own stony reality. Shooting, attacks, lives destroyed in utter instants. Families, friends, loved ones cut down and torn asunder on what was supposed to be a fun night out, a peaceful protest, a moment in time, the space between breaths. No, no one needs me to delve deeper into the darkness.

What is my job, though, is get out of the way of the light. No, I am not suggesting that we silver line anyone’s pain. No. Never. I have never experienced such utter, violent loss. I have no frame of knowledge from which to speak to their pain. But I can acknowledge it and I do, with all my heart. I acknowledge their loss, their pain, their grief, their anger, their sadness, and join it in with them. I do not know these people, any of them here or abroad, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot take their grief as much to heart as I would those close to me.

But there is something else that I take to heart along with that grief. Something that I have noticed in so much of the aftermath of these events: the voices that come out of them. Voices of those who suffer this grief and loss. Their voices that call, beg, plead for peace. Their voices that admonish us to love, hold, do good unto, and care for others. Their voices that call for forgiveness. Their voices and lives that are the living proof that “grace is a better choice than bitterness”. Those voices draw others to them, draw tight the threads of community, and knit bridges to extend between and welcome near.

I am taking those voices to heart and soul. There may not be much or anything that I can do on a large scale but I can do my best to do as they have asked. I can do my best to live in peace. I can love, hold, do good unto, and care for others. I can forgive. I can give grace instead of sinking into bitterness and jadedness.

I can hold on to hope. And so can you.