“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers -- so many caring people in this world.”
-- Fred Rogers
I wish this could be our typical, upbeat post but after the unthinkable tragedy in Connecticut, that can't be the case. Like all of you, Steve and I were horrified to hear about shootings and find it hard to understand such evil. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, including the family of the man that carried out this horrific act.
I could spend a great deal of time waxing philosophical, or even theological, about the evil present in the world and what God does, or should do, in light of what could be called "demonic" behavior. Such an incredible tragedy. Trying to describe that horrific event is something that words cannot quite do justice to. We struggle to understand, to be sure, but there is more to the story.
I have something that I want to do right now. I do not want to make light of the pain of the victims' families, because my heart breaks just like yours, when I try to imagine what those people are dealing with at this time. But what I want to do instead of focusing on the sadness is to redirect our attention for just a bit and somehow see some good in such a bad situation.
First, let's take notice at the number of people who immediately descended upon this community to help. Whether it be to assist the police in obtaining evidence and motive, or the individuals who are helping the families cope and carry on with the process of grieving, or the people who came into the community to do nothing more than open their arms and give a hug, and be hugged, in abject grief. It is at times like this that I am proud of who we are as a people. Sadly, it is not until we are faced with such tragedy that we show our true colors - - we really do love each other in the United States. Just as with Hurricane Sandy, strangers come together to help those in need. Volunteering time, donating money and food, and just generally being there in prayer with, and for, those who are suffering.
Secondly, how about the father of one of the young victims who proclaimed his concern for the remaining family of the shooter? At a time when he is processing probably the most pain his heart will ever experience, some of his thoughts are for the pain that the father and brother of the killer are experiencing. How touching is that? Would you or I have been so gracious?
As Red Cross members and through my new ministry with the Billy Graham organization, Steve and I get a first-hand look at the other side of tragedy - - the love side. I don't know about you, but so much of my regular life I spend thinking about or praying about the evils we face every day. Today, instead, I want to rejoice in the love that is evident at times like these. Can we take a moment and thank God for what is obvious inherent in most of us - - a real and genuine love for our fellow man. Jesus serves as a model for us at times like this, doesn't he? When confronted with opposition, he loved. While being tortured and killed for the work He did in spreading the gospel message, his thoughts were about the forgiveness of those who were his killers.
I guess what I am saying is that in order to not get overwhelmed with the violence and tragedy that we read about daily in the news, let's talk about the generosity and loving acts of those who come to the aid of others. What a different place this world would be if the 6:00 evening news was one story after another about good things in this world, instead of who's bombing who, the drugs and child molestations occurring in our schools and neighborhoods, and the murders and violence that we hear about taking place within someone's broken family. I dream about a time when that is what we focus on - - goodness. Doesn't that sound nice?
Ok, that's it for my soapbox. Now on to the story of Baton Rouge.
Steve was a big fan of Justin Wilson - - The Cajun Cook - - a chef and a humorist. For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, let me give you some examples of his quirkiness. He is from Louisiana so, of course, he would name his dog Phideaux (aka Fido). He named his dishes with goofy names like "Chicken What The Hell". He's also known for his saying "I gar-on-tee". One of his more famous jokes goes something like this.. http://www.casttv.com/video/nar8jo/new-orleans-cajun-justin-wilson-christmas-video Anyway, Steve visited his gravesite and took some pictures. So beautiful!
Along with doing a little gambling at the Hollywood Casino, where we lost money once again, we visited the Old State Capitol Building. What an absolutely magnificent piece of gothic revival architecture! Pictures do not do it justice as one really has to see it to believe it. The woodwork, stained glass windows, and spiral staircase were spectacular. It even has a dome in the center that has blue, yellow and red stained glass that just takes your breath away. It was all decorated for Christmas and it was delightful to behold. This building has a ton of history. It was built in 1847, used as a barracks during the civil war, burned almost completely down, rebuilt, abandoned, and then finally restored through funding provided by the citizens of Louisiana. Now it serves as only a museum as Governor Huey Long built a new Capitol building during his administration. It is definitely worth a couple of hours of your time to tour this structure.
That's really all for Baton Rouge. We did some geocaching, but other than that, I studied and Steve read. We are currently in Livingston, Texas where we will be until January 4.
Hopefully the weather will improve over that which we experienced in Baton Rouge. I have no desire to see ice on the windshield ever again!!!