I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

When I heard what happened in Connecticut I couldn’t breathe. All those innocent little children,  and good school teachers killed– two of my daughters are elementary teachers– and now more details emerge. Names. Olivia, Charlotte, Emilie. Where is God in this? I asked a pastor friend,  when he called to see if I was okay. He suggested we could pray together over the phone. Episcopalians don’t usually do that,  and I don’t think I ever have done that before– but it seemed like a better response than sitting alone at my desk sobbing, so I said sure. I don’t remember what he said, but after I said Amen I felt better. I felt better too, when I saw a photo of the first responders, EMTs, troopers, police, and firemen running toward that school. The looks on their faces were so determined and pained, so caring, kind and capable. There is grace in that. There is even grace in our grieving. Yesterday, everything I did seemed more meaningful. The walk on the beach with the dogs and a friend. Breakfast with the grand babies, even working with  Pizza Joe in that crazy Snow Dragon in the annual parade– I wanted to hug him because he is still here, and we all are. It was as if everyone was being extra nice, extra good, extra attentive to this fragile peace of our little town. Nothing was that bad anymore- a friend’s  diagnosis could be worse, the slushy roadway was better than ice, the long line at the Uglys community dinner was a chance to visit with friends, a friend’s old dog had died, but she was a good dog, wasn’t she? Another friend who is not a church goer asked me what she should tell her child about why we celebrate Christmas, what is the tree and the holiday all about anyway? She said she tried but got way bogged down with the  immaculate conception and gave up. I said forget about that, I can’t even explain that to myself and I’m a practicing Christian. Start with baby Jesus, born in a barn with sweet hay and gentle animals. I like to think those shepherds had a dog, too, and there must have been at least one kitten in the hayloft. God gave the world his only child in order to  teach us how to love one another, and we do, mostly, we honestly, deeply, truly do.