A father wanted to entertain his little girl so he could have some time alone. He cut out a picture of the world from the newspaper and gave her the pieces to put together. “It’s like a jigsaw puzzle,” he told her, and he figured it would keep her busy for a while so he could sit and read the rest of the paper. But, in only a few moments, she proudly showed it to him all put together.

“How did you get it together so quickly?” he asked. “Well,” said the little one, “on the other side of the picture of the world was a picture of a person. All I had to do was put the person together and the world took care of itself.” The person and by extension, our world, is not together. Because it’s not as easy to put the person together as we hoped. As a rabbi said, “There is a deep brokenness, and that brokenness has exploded in violence and in rage and in terrible pain.”

The reality is that no one is settled. There is no tranquility. The images in the news and the terrible loss of lives fill out hearts with sadness. There are those who imagine that we can live in this world with just love. It’s a beautiful image, except it’s like having a heart that can expand and never has to contract. There is love and there is hate, There is sweetness and there is bitterness. There are peaks and there are valleys.

The week when 17 lives were savagely taken in Parkland crushed our hearts and so many families heard the awful news. As too many shootings have shown even in the brightness of the day, the darkness of night can set in. How to confront this unspeakable darkness is the question we ask over and over. So many young lives cut short.

A poet has written this about young lives cut short:

Do not judge a song by its duration

Nor by the number of its notes

Judge it by the richness of its contents

Sometimes those unfinished are among the most poignant..

Do not judge a song by its duration

Nor by the number of its notes

Judge it by the way it touches and lifts the soul

Sometimes those unfinished are among the most beautiful..

And when someone has touched your life

And when the  melody of their lives lingers on in your heart.

Is it unfinished?

Or is it endless?

Let these words be engraved on our hearts: “Our souls have been touched forever by these young lives and their grieving families, by the lost innocence of the survivors and the forever changed world of the community in which they live. May the memories of the brave and innocent never fade from our minds.”

Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe, a cancer survivor, is a motivational/inspirational speaker on the theme NEVER GIVE UP! He authored “Why Me? Why Anyone?” which chronicles his rescue from leukemia and his spiritual triumph over despair. Known as “The Running Rabbi” for competing in the NY Marathon, he received the “Award of Courage” from President Ronald Reagan in a White House ceremony. Rabbi Jaffe was one of the clergy who visited the American hostages in Iran to offer them comfort and hope and was asked by the President to greet them at the White House upon their return. He received an honorary Doctorate from his seminary for “his work with the sick, and his noble influence upon all people. You can follow him on Facebook.

Image courtesy of Kristina Paukshtite.