Last week, our kids participated in Jersey Day at their school to show support to the Humboldt Broncos. They are only five years old, but somehow they understood the magnitude of this tragic event and the importance of paying respect.
Now, true confession… we don’t own one hockey jersey between the four of us! **insert collective gasp here**
Our kids came home sober faced upon hearing the announcement for Jersey Day, and why it was happening. They understood the importance of standing together with their classmates to honour those who had lost their lives. Being a part of the larger community, desiring to pour out their hearts for those who grieve, these were milestone moments and I wanted so badly to support them in their efforts.
I knew it was unlikely I would be able to conjure up jerseys at the last minute, but I started formulating a plan so our kids could participate with their school, and country, in Jersey Day.
First, I checked the stash of fabric paint markers to confirm we had green and yellow. Check and check.
Second, I made a mad dash to Walmart to find white t-shirts. Do you know that it is extremely difficult to find plain white t-shirts in children’s sizes? In fact, it was impossible for me given the eleventh hour creation frenzy (I tend to do all my “projects” after kids are in bed). I settled for the smallest adult shirts I could find, and set to work.
I have to tell you, it feels like far too little to sit down with a pair of shirts and some fabric markers and try to make sense of tragedy. My humble offering was woefully inadequate in relation to the unimaginable loss that the Humboldt community and the hockey community experienced. The entire nation was on its knees mourning the loss of sixteen souls, as well as the uncertain future of many others. And I was staying up too late with fabric paint. It didn’t make sense.
But the next day, our children sat with me and asked me to read every word and name on their shirts. Twice. They stood in reverence for the dead, honoured the memories of those lost and the sorrow of those who grieved their losses. They wore their too-large shirts proudly over their respective athletic attire: soccer jersey for him, and dance leotard for her. And they paid tribute alongside their classmates, teachers and country.
My heart breaks to think of the sorrows that draw us together. It is a bittersweet outpouring, but somehow it becomes more sweet than bitter the longer we taste it.
What makes us each #humboldtstrong in our own way? Is it the resilience we demonstrate when faced with tragedy? Maybe. But I think the strength comes in the form of grace. When we come together to pour out our hearts in the only ways we know how – donations, hockey sticks, Jersey Day, green and yellow – it is the intention behind the efforts that makes all the difference.
The intention says, “We see you. We grieve alongside you. We can’t understand your loss, but we are still here lifting you up.” The beauty in the midst of tragedy is that we have the capacity to love beyond measure. This is where grace lives.
The pastor at our home church* once said, “We want to be known for what we’re for, not for what we’re against.”
Our collective response to the Humboldt tragedy reminds us that we are for each other.
We are for honour, and mercy, and grace, and love.
We are for tears cried in private and in public, for the pouring out of our hearts in times of great sorrow.
We are for prayer that lifts up all those who suffer.
We are for doing life together, through sorrow and tragedy, onto the other side of grief, whatever that looks like, and wherever it takes us.
May we always be Humboldt Strong.
Karma writes from the golden house in Northeastern BC, where she lives with her husband and their two kids, the awesome twosome. Follow her blog for the latest musings on living a passionate, persistent, vibrant life.
*No matter where we live in the world, Evangel Downtown will always be our home church. We recognize that being part of the Church may take us all over creation in our lifetimes, but Evangel is the place where God first made Himself known to us, and so, it is home.