On my way to work this morning I made my usual brief stop at a garage to buy The Guardian, which I like to read in my lunchbreak.  As I made my way to the till to pay, glancing over the front page as I walked, I was literally stopped in my tracks by the image on the front page.

You can read the paper’s online version of the latest news about the war Israel is waging to bring down Hamas.  It was the accompanying image that halted me in my steps though, which online is a video version (I couldn’t bring myself to watch it, the still was enough).  It looks like the children are sleeping, but I can’t get out of my head how terrifying it must have been for them in the days and then the final moments leading up to their death.

I paid for my paper, with the photo now carefully folded inside so I couldn’t see it.  A picture of a dead child is too raw, I just see my own child and recoil at the horror of that terrible thought.  Once sat in the car I sat muttering to God, and then felt I just had to look again, to face this image and story that represents the awful reality of life today for those people in Gaza City.  My hands were shaking as I unfolded the paper once again.  I looked for a few careful moments and then found it unbearable.  One picture that says just too much.

I began to drive to work again, and this time my mutterings to God had become “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…”.  Perhaps they were also directed at the dead children too, at their families who are grieving and living in the midst of a terrible nightmare (I’m aware that I’m writing in awful cliches but can’t find better words).

I have a very tenuous grasp of what’s going on with Israel and Hamas.  And pictures like this just beg the question, can it really be worth it?  I’d love someone to tell me.

It was with bitter reflection that I saw the emptiness of my own worrying about the economy this coming year, about job security for those I know and love.  These things can be important, but 3 dead children amongst the bodies of so many others challenge that narrative as being the overriding one in 2009.

Blessed are the peacemakers.