It was a child. It was the horrific deed of one person. It took us from light and joy into a place of fear and struggle and hope. We struggled, an innocent child going to get a movie with his buddies and taken in the night. This was the place in time that one family, one community, one world were thrown into the journey that has formed and changed so very many lives. We learned, we answered the challenge from Jacob’s family for us together to seek how to live with hope in a manner that I had never considered.
My husband and I were just in the beginning of parenting. Our son’s birthday celebration on a beautiful fall day ended for us with those who love and care for us gathering to celebrate life. Just a short drive away another family ended that night being tossed into a journey that would span decades. And that family chose the light and hope of life over the dark.
The Wetterlings for many of us are an incredible example of unselfish love and care, grace and hope. An unending witness to how we can respond to a horrific event. It was by their example we were in awe of a family that could have, in this painful event, turn in and away, but rather, they opened themselves. And by their living example, they led us in learning how we can continue to love with hope. I suspect it was a very intentional turning out and continuing to move the momentum forward with hope, to bring an innocent young boy home.
And now, as they mourn the death of their son in these past weeks, they again provide and gift the community with an amazing gathering to grieve and mourn. The Wetterlings provided a community service that took us from the pain of death into the hope of the future. The sensitivity to the enormous diversity and faith practices in our community, all combined to provide a place for sharing our loss. Reflecting on life using such a grand collaboration of spiritual forms — the Native American prayer, the Baha’i, Christian and beyond. The words of the family to express gratitude to the community and beyond were incredibly generous — to honor us in sharing this time of memorial. To, in their pain, bring us together with care and compassion was an incredible and selfless gift.
Jacob’s family has shown us in so many ways how I believe we are all called to live — in community, with and for others.
Patty provided us the witness to care and support others. “We wouldn’t have survived the past 27 years,” Patty said, “without the love and care and support. Jacob’s Hope will continue in the love and care and support we share with each other.”
She continued, to “every parent who is out there still searching….we’re still with you,” Patty said. “Jacob’s Hope will continue in our efforts to bring every missing person home. Every last one!”
The music and readings of the service for me reflected the call of Christ of love and care for one another. It set forth a strong reminder that the call of our Catholic baptism to live in the light of Christ is real and for every one of us.
Red Grammer’s song reminded us, “…black or white, red or tan…we are part of the family of man.” We are called by Christ to love and serve one another. There are no conditions on God’s command, there are no “time outs” from Jesus’ teaching — we are called to love and serve.
As the song written by Douglas Wood proclaims, “We are Jacob’s Hope.” As we grieve and mourn the death of Jacob, we now have the opportunity to once again decide how we will live. Do we choose to live with hope or despair? Do we choose to live in the light even on the days that the darkness seems to overcome the glimmer?
Christ calls us to shine the light. Together I believe the light of the Son will overcome any evil and challenges that come into each of our lives.
I choose to live with hope and light. I choose the Son. I hope you do as well.