Still Keeping Them in Our Hearts

by Rev. Andrew Clive Millard

In a sermon just before Christmas, I grieved for Newtown CT following the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.  I talked about some of the things that had been encouraging me as I experienced that mixture of sadness and rage that so many of us were feeling, including the inspiring story and work of Hannah Brencher, who started leaving handwritten letters — love letters, in fact — where strangers in need of encouragement — of knowing that someone, anyone, cared about them, even if anonymously — might find them.  I said that, when the new year arrived, and the camera crews had left, and the people of Newtown tried to adjust to what all too glibly was being called their “new normal”, I wanted them to know that we are thinking of them.

Our Mailbox

Our Mailbox
(picture by ACM)

So I asked you, as we moved through the holidays and into the new year, to write a note, a love letter to the people of Newtown.  “It doesn’t need to be poetry,” I said.  “It doesn’t need to be brilliantly eloquent or even more than a few sentences.  It just needs to be from your heart.  Seal it in an envelope and bring it here or give it to me sometime during the month of January, and I’ll send your notes to Newtown for Valentine’s Day, to give them some encouragement as they face the future, as together we build a future in which such violence is merely a sad memory.”

Notes to Newtown

Notes to Newtown
(picture by ACM)

I am pleased that those of you there that Sunday morning in late December agreed to do just that.  You wrote, by hand, a love letter, a unique note of thoughtfulness and encouragement, something from your heart to people in need of knowing that others continue to care about them.  You brought in your notes and letters all through January, and in early February I mailed them to Newtown CT.

But that wasn’t all that we sent.  The Sunday morning Religious Education classes also made paper snowflakes, part of a nationwide effort to create a “blizzard of love” for the children and parents and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary.  And though they were indeed buried in snowflakes sent from all over the country and beyond, the Sandy Hook PTA has been writing back to everyone who took the time to think of them.  Here is what they said.

Sandy Hook SchoolThank you for your heartfelt, generous and thoughtful contribution to Snowflakes for Sandy Hook.  Because of your efforts and many others, we received snowflakes of all shapes, sizes and forms from schools, PTAs, community centers and families across the country and around the world.  Sandy Hook students, staff and families have been the recipients of a blizzard of love and support in the form of snowflakes, and we could not be more thankful!

Our community has taken great comfort in the global outpouring of support from wonderful people like you.  We will always treasure our blizzard of love.

Thank you for your kindness, Sandy Hook Elementary School PTA


Some of the snowflakes sent to Sandy Hook
(from Sandy Hook Elementary PTA)

About acmillard

Andrew serves as minister to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula in Newport News, Virginia.
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