Friday, February 21, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Connections

Connections.

Life is truly a small world. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind us how interconnected we are in this world.

As the Amber Alert went out for 10-year-old Haliey Owens, her photo began popping up on the social media accounts of friends in southwest Missouri.

Then like the ripples in a pebble tossed pond, the word began to spread - especially after Kansas and Oklahoma media were added to the Amber Alert.

We live in a vast interconnected world.

We laugh and celebrate together. We cry and mourn together.

My heart breaks for the family of Owens. It cries out for my friends who work within the Springfield school system and for those who have direct connections with the family.

Sometimes living in a community hurts.

In the wake of a tragedy like this, I know my immediate reaction is to grab my loved ones, hold them tight and well, find a hole and not come out.

But isolation is not the answer.

One of my favorite authors, Thomas Merton, penned a book, No Man Is An Island during his writing career. The jist of it is this. We cannot live without connections. We need each other — not only to share our joys, but also our sadness.

I wish I knew why things happen. I guess I'll add this to my "long list" of questions that have no answers.

Evil exists in the world. It's a fact. But here's the deal, we cannot let it win.

If we isolate ourselves, turn on each other, become suspicious, and frankly look for monsters behind every nook and cranny, evil wins.

I think Grove Police Chief Mark Morris summed it up best yesterday.

We need to educate ourselves and be aware of our surroundings — but we can't scare ourselves (or our children).

Monsters may not come with signs that say "I'm evil, run from me." They don't look like the zombies on Walking Dead. Sometimes they masquerade as people we would least expect.

We need to educate ourselves, we need to talk to the kidlets in our lives. We need to step out of our isolation and band together with our community. This means not only reporting suspicious behavior but also coming together to celebrate life.

Yes, evil won in this case. But in reality, the good is shining through.

From the Springfield (Mo.) Department's Facebook page: "We would like to thank all of you, the Springfield community, as well as the dozens of communities near and far that helped spread the word of Hailey's abduction. You often witness the strength of a community in the way they handle a tragic situation, and we couldn't be more proud of the citizens' concern and assistance in this matter. ... We certainly wish more than anything that this event could have had a different conclusion. If there's any positive news in this at all, it's that the suspect is no longer on the streets of Springfield. Please keep the family and friends of Hailey in your thoughts and prayers."

I think, more and more, I'm going to need to rely on a verse a friend reminded me of yesterday.

"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love." — 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (NLT)

I don't see things clearly right now. Evil has clouded the view for the moment. But I know that ultimately, faith, hope and love can, and will win - we just have to be willing to puzzle through the murky times in life to find them.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at kaylea.hutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228. This column originally appeared in the Feb. 21, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

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