Elizabeth Smart: A Ray of Light in a Very Dark World
- 2003 14 Mar
Like millions, I steeled myself for the worst as yet another "breaking news report" and the obligatory ominous network music interrupted the afternoon monotony of television game shows. What now? How much more had man's inhumanity to man been redefined? And how many more lives had been cut short in the process?
Face it, we currently live under a dark cloud of constant threat, where breaking news reports are like lightening bolts, suicide bombings roll like thunder, and the words "war", "death" and "hatred" are an unrelenting downpour, soaking through our every emotion. We are beginning to forget what the "sun" looks like.
We are raw from the onslaught, yet at the same time being beaten into an ennui of sorts. We know too much, we see too much, we fear too much. We know we cannot have Camelot, where the rains may never fall till after midnight, but we wish for the clouds to part, if even briefly.
Wednesday afternoon, that wish was granted, if only for one brief shining moment. Elizabeth Smart, after nearly nine months missing, was found alive.
Alive and well. And while "well" shall certainly will come to be seen as a relative term, as her story of abduction unfolds, the fact that she was found alive and returned to the love of her family made the "sun" pour through those rain clouds.
If I am feeling the warmth of hope and prayer and experiencing the glow of all things being possible, those who have personally lived without her presence for almost a year, must surely be in need of SPF (soul protection factor!) and wrap around shades, as their joy threatens to consume them.
When Elizabeth was abducted, we became riveted by every shred of news, evidence, and emotion. As a parent, how easy was it to imagine tucking in our own children, only to awaken to the nightmare of finding an empty bed the next morning? We cried for the Smarts, we prayed for the Smarts, we prayed for ourselves.
Yet as the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, society - fed by a sensationalist media - did what it does best. We turned on the victims, desperate to place blame, answer the questions, and move on with our lives.
In our attempts to believe it could not be as simple, yet horrific as abduction, we allowed the media to savage the Smarts, to turn them inside out, to defame their characters, to paint them with the brushes of avarice, greed, sex. Their religious beliefs were ridiculed, the sleeping arrangements of the children were suspect, and the Smarts tarred and feathered so that we could sleep better at night.
Shame on us.
It has made me realize that we bring many of these rain clouds on ourselves. We allow innuendo and sizzle to be portrayed as "news". The same world weary ennui that has us becoming desensitized to war, threats and hatred, have left us willing to watch the clouds be "salted" by the media in order for the rains to continue. A sad contradiction when the sun is what we truly want to experience.
I believe the Smarts have shown incredible grace and focus, despite their personal lives being turned into Enquirer magazine headlines. And as they rejoice in Elizabeth's return to their lives, and begin what will surely be a painstaking, grueling journey to heal the devastation they have endured, that same grace will allow them to see past the same Enquirer once again using them for headline making profits.
In our hearts, we know the clouds will again fill in our skies, and the rains will continue to dampen our spirits. Our world is in peril, but we have now been given a glimpse of the power of faith, hope and love.
Today the headlines are led not by death, but by life. And like the millions who have been living under the dark clouds, I will turn my face to the Heavens and rejoice in the light of this one, brief shining moment. For if one is possible, how many more are waiting to break through?
Welcome home Elizabeth.
Linda Sharp is an internationally recognized author and columnist who writes regularly on the joyous and frustrating world of parenting. Linda is also creator of the website, Sanity Central - A Time Out from Parenting. Her latest book, Stretchmarks On My Sanity: The Growing Pains of Raising a Family, has earned her rave reviews and comparisons to the late Erma Bombeck. As a mother of three children, she firmly believes that laughter IS the best medicine. Visit Linda at www.lindasharp.com. Lighten up your load and visit www.sanitycentral.com