In which we need pragmatists and prophets

We need pragmatists. And we need prophets.We need policy

makers. And we need poets. We need silence. And we need anger.

Lament, go ahead, and I need someone to say it, too, just once, once out loud:

what in the actual fuck has happened here? And no one

can answer me, insufficient despairing. In the night, we are the borderless chorus of mamas,

we need a song, and so we hum old lullabies for empty beds with old Tinkerbell sheets.

We’re watching with those who weep and wait for morning dawn relief, it will

not come and our marrow weeps underneath the tragic optimism of our routine.

We want to snatch our tinies up and run away somewhere, anywhere

surely there is a place we can hide from this horror, the terrors of death.  But we wait

until the bell, we turn off the news, we make spaghetti. I stood outside

my daughter’s classroom yesterday afternoon in the cold sunshine, early, and her face appeared

at the classroom window, grinning gap-toothed, waving,

and I stood quiet on the cracked pavement, because

I was waving back, relieved, and another mother sits vacant and empty

on the floor of a fire house, wondering dull what to do

with her hands now, they have no hair to smooth, no face to wipe,

no pages to turn, that will smooth, wipe, turn this, trying not think

how her baby was scared and she was not there, and I don’t know what to do for her,

so I cry again, and I curse, and pray for peace that passes all understanding.

We need the pragmatists with policy , we need the prophets streaked in ash,

We need the God who sees, and God with us.

Light a candle, light a candle, say

a prayer, redeem us, save us, see us, help us, love us, comfort us.

We need psalmists and pastors and policy makers, we are hungry for justice,

for someone to somehow protect us, and someone must lift us, we’ve soaked

the ground with our tears, though the earth be removed, and the mountains

carried to the sea, and our own babies die in kindergarten classrooms, yet, maybe

tomorrow, someday, perhaps, we will praise again, not today.




death, faith, poetry

66 Responses to In which we need pragmatists and prophets

  1. Preston Yancey December 15, 2012 at 8:16 am #


  2. Katherine Willis Pershey December 15, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    Oh my God.

  3. Tara Porter-Livesay December 15, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    love you. frustrated with the distance right now. waiting on the light.

  4. Brittaney December 15, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    Our world is broken, our systems are broken. We are broken. There is only One who can mend our hearts. Have mercy Lord Jesus.

  5. Helen Burns December 15, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    Amen….amen. As a grandmother, I watched last night as the shining faces of my granddaughters appeared on the platform to sing Christmas songs at their school performance and I could not stop thinking or praying for those who would not see the ones they loved sing songs this year or ever again. My heart is broken and I will continue to pray and grieve with those whose lives will never be the same again.

  6. Esther Emery December 15, 2012 at 8:42 am #


  7. Katie December 15, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    I will choose praise today, because He commands it, and deserves. And I will hope that that choice will help me move past my poor broken heart crying out with you “what in the actual fuck has happened here?” Because I simply cannot fathom the horrendous-ness of a world where this can happen.

  8. Sarah Askins December 15, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    Amen…as poet, my words won’t come together, they’re jumbled into anger and chaos caught somewhere between battle cry and lament.

  9. Sarah Moon December 15, 2012 at 9:34 am #


  10. Addie Zierman December 15, 2012 at 9:34 am #


  11. Mar December 15, 2012 at 9:36 am #


  12. Ashleigh Baker December 15, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Amen, again and again.

  13. Robin December 15, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Powerful. Brought me to tears.

  14. Jeanny Jakobsen December 15, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Thank you!

  15. SortaCrunchy December 15, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Soaked the ground with our tears. Yes. I don’t think I’ve really stopped crying since the news broke yesterday. I can hardly even breathe. Thank you for bringing words to the outcry in my heart.

  16. Heather Westberg King December 15, 2012 at 11:06 am #


  17. Ed_Cyzewski December 15, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    so much to mourn indeed.

  18. Lindsay December 15, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Yes, amen.

  19. Bethany Bassett December 15, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    Echoing Preston in amen.

  20. leannepenny December 15, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Amen Sarah.. I just keep singing the Andrew Petersen song “come Lord Jesus, Amen” over and over… and mostly just that line.

  21. Wendy December 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    So thankful for your words shared that I couldn’t find as my heart broke over and over.

  22. Elizabeth Esther December 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    We need ALL of us. Yes, thank you Sarah! xo.

  23. Shan December 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm #


  24. Annie Barnett December 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Mercy. (Thank you, Sarah…)

  25. Jess December 15, 2012 at 5:27 pm #


  26. Jeniece Harris December 15, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Thank you.

  27. Nicole December 15, 2012 at 8:11 pm #


  28. nicole i December 15, 2012 at 9:00 pm #


  29. Joy Lenton December 16, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    You’ve spoken for all of us – bereaved, confused, hurting and just plain outraged by it all. A beautifully expressed poetic and powerful lament. Amen and Amen. Thank you, Sarah.

  30. Elizabeth Larson-DiPippo December 16, 2012 at 5:14 am #

    thank you for this. I have no words so I am very grateful for yours.

  31. TB Pasquale December 16, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    beautiful, profound, resounding in the space of grief….thank you.

  32. Missy December 16, 2012 at 10:35 am #


  33. Bethany Grace Paget December 16, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    Oh Sarah this was beautiful. The hearts aching cry for what many of us cannot say right now. I know my heart is just wrecked but yet when I pray the words don’t come. But silence is sometimes the only prayer necessary.

  34. Deidra December 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    Nailed it. Thank you. I cooked tacos on Friday night and it all seemed so pointless and empty and necessary.

  35. brenda December 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    why are we so so far behind in recognizing mental illness as something to be treated rather than ashamed of and sweeping it under the rug? Do we pretend someone’s broken bone is not or that diabetes is not and deny treatment NO. We must be just as compassionate and educated about an illness in ones mind/brain..

  36. michael j. kimpan December 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    this post saved me from insanity. thank you., sarah. an absolutely appropriate, and beautiful response to these tragic and unconscionable events.

  37. pastordt December 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    so much pain, so few words. just these: amen. thank you. and a lot of groans and sighs.

  38. Janet Macy December 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    Beautifully and poignantly said. And there are some of us who are weeping tears because we have lost little ones of our own and know the road that is ahead for 20 more families. An unwanted unasked for journey that will never end in their life-time. That has altered their lives forever.

  39. Mary1912 December 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Thank you for using the F word. If any situation calls for it, it’s this ghastly one. I think what we also need is healing for those who are mentally and spiritually ill. And we need eyes to see this illness, prayers and wisdom for its healling.

  40. Jennifer December 16, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    Such a beautiful prayer for those innocent babies and adults stolen way too soon. Thank you and may they rest in peace and may the families and first responders find peace in time.

  41. Emily Wierenga December 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    so I cry again, and I curse, and pray for peace that passes all understanding.

    yes friend. me too. me too.

  42. Rev-o-lution December 16, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    amen, Sarah. I knew you had posted this but only today had the courage to read it all the way through. It speaks right to me, again and again.

  43. Robin Dance December 17, 2012 at 6:08 am #

    A poetic finger to monsters and madmen. Yes…that wins.


  44. Alana G December 17, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    I believe everyone will wonder from now what happened that very day. But what’s going wrong now a days esp in school and many other places. They are taking GOD & PRAYER out of schools and trying to take God out of everything. They have even talked about taking “in God we trust” off our money. Now if we really sit back and think God is the reason why we are here today. He created day and night, the stars and the moon, every creature on land and even on water. He created it all and it only took 7 days. So why take God out of everything. He’s there when noone else will be. When we turn to him and call on him he will be there. I have yet to figure out how one can be so troubled where they can kill innocent people esp innocent babies. those babies had so much to look forward to and so much to do in life. Now they wont see what Santa brought them on Christmas. they wont make it to the 12th grade. they wont go to college. they wont get get married. they wont have a family. all b/c of one troubled guy who needed to seek GOD and prayer and ask for help if he was that bad off. Who in their right mind kills their mom or anyone else in their family. Who in their right mind kills anymore. Heck I cry when i hit a deer. I dont have the heart to kill anyone and i sure as hell dont have the heart to kill myself. I have too much in life that I want to do and life is too precious to end it b/c of one thing.

  45. Carole F December 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    Yours words bring truth as ever, dear sister. This is my Advent lament. O come, O come Emmanuel.

  46. ChrisOakes December 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm #


  47. Kelly Wiggains December 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    Beautiful. Thank you for this.

  48. Gary Ware December 18, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    Amen and Amen. Thank you.

  49. Kamille Scellick December 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    You wrote my heart on that horrible bloody Friday.

  50. Rev. De Wolf August 31, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    I am actually a minister in Newtown. I thought people might like to read a few of my posts from those first few months. Thanks for all the continued prayers and support for our community.

    You can also read more about what to do in a situation like Newtown’s here:

    God bless.


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