Crayon Tribute

What consolanewtown_angelstion can there possibly be from this display of wooden angels, or a second very similar, or from the piles of toys and teddy bears? Who could be so cruel as to force the bereaved of Newtown to encounter these sad reminders as they move about the town?

A bus travelling from Newtown, Conn., to Monroe stops in front of 26 angels along the roadside on the first day of classes for Sandy Hook Elementary School students since the Dec. 14 shootings.

A bus travelling from Newtown, Conn., to Monroe stops in front of 26 angels along the roadside on the first day of classes for Sandy Hook Elementary School students since the Dec. 14 shootings.

And can you imagine the feelings of the children on this school bus as it paused in front of another angel display!?

Of course it is important to remember, but one does not need reminding when the grief is still so raw and inescapable. I think this piles cruelty on top of cruelty.

But then, I don’t “do angels” any more.

I had a guardian angel, once… but she was mean, a spy and a tattletale, who never seemed to keep me out of trouble, but was alleged to see and know everything I did or thought… and to record and report it. I fired her about the same time I gave up on tooth fairies and Santa Claus. It has been a longer and more difficult journey to get past the rest of the  lies that were part of my childhood upbringing.

It is always wrong to lie to children… and to adults, too, no matter what their grief and need for consolation.

I do not believe that the murdered children are angels in heaven. Does anyone? To think so involves tricking oneself, engaging in magical thinking and massive cognitive dissonance. Some call it faith, and derive comfort. I don’t quite know what I would do in such circumstances, but I can be sure that angels would not be part of it.

Which explains why I find it so hard to credit the difference in reaction between the angel display and the crayon mural painted by Gamma Acosta.


This Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 photo shows a portion of Gamma Acosta’s mural “Crayons,” in Longmont, Colo. The mural, a tribute to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., is being cut out to preserve the artwork. BOULDER DAILY CAMERA OUT; COLORADO DAILY OUT Photo: The Daily Times Call, Greg Lindstrom / AP

The mural has a graphic impact and emotional intensity that emphasize, with incredible power, the horror and cruelty of the event . It was immediately criticized… and immediately bought by a collector who wanted it preserved. I think both the concept and the execution are brilliant, and the scale of the piece matches the tremendous importance of the subject. I hope it becomes an icon, an image of the struggle for sanity and safety that lie ahead.

This blog was difficult to write, and I have delayed posting it. I do not intend to be disrespectful of anyone’s faith, but I no longer believe, and I find it impossible to dissemble. My heart goes out to the grieving parents, but I have no prayers to offer in comfort.

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One Response to Crayon Tribute

  1. I had not seen the crayon tribute before – it is very powerful, but also a grievous reminder to parents and others of their loss.

    Odd, I had always thought that those tributes were put up by the grieving families themselves. I don’t know why I thought that. I’ve never seen the sense to them but, not having been in that position myself, allowed that they might derive comfort from them. But if others are erecting the tributes, I’m not sure how the grieving parents would feel.It would perhaps be better to show support in some more tangible way.

    Believing that those children are now angels propagates the falsehood that God “takes” them. Why would a loving God do such a cruel thing?

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