Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Christina Grimmie is a Bright Beautiful Light for the Future

A decade is coming to an end in a few weeks.

For the last three and a half years, I have turned my attention nearly every month to remembering Christina Grimmie.

Again and again I find myself rediscovering her vitality, her creativity, her innocence and joy, her passionate dedication, her magnificent voice, her irrepressible music, her strength, vulnerability, humor, and gentleness, her greatness of soul — all these gifts of herself that she shared with people all over the world, that have left an indelible mark on the past ten years.

Christina's bright, innovative, resourceful personality reflects much that is good and promising in the younger generation who will be the protagonists of our future, the "kids" who grew up in the 2010s (among whom are my own son and four daughters). Her remarkable resilience has reminded me not to underestimate this generation.

I'm glad for that, because the path forward into the 2020s and beyond is far from obvious. The 2010s have been a traumatic decade. Communications technology has exploded in ways no one had previously imagined. This has engendered a wealth of new and interesting social media connections among millions of people and across vast distances. But the result can become a dizzying and often directionless interaction that only aggravates the deeper loneliness that people endure amidst a bewildering multiplication of superficial information and options for distraction. Meanwhile, the harshness of events and the proliferation of violence have too often shattered the foundations upon which people thought they stood in their relationships with one another. And so we find it harder to work together, to understand one another, to trust one another. Our families and our communities are more fragmented than ever.

Our awareness of our dignity and responsibility as human persons has not grown in proportion to our power to manipulate the material elements of the world. As a result, our capacity for destructiveness in earthly and human environments has become more ominous and threatening.

Still, when I look at the face and listen to the voice of Christina Grimmie, I find reasons for hope. This may appear ironic, given that her own life story can easily be interpreted as an illustration of the increasing danger and fragility of trying to live a generous and self-giving human life in today's world. I have written elsewhere why I don't think this is an adequate understanding of her story. At the center of her life was (is) a much greater Reality that remains a source of renewal in ways that are mysterious but also undeniably human.

Even though she will not accompany us into the next decade on the plane of earthly history, Christina is a seed sown deep into the life of our time and the experience of many representatives of the young generation. Her legacy is not only a foundation for the future, it will bear fruit in special ways, in new forms of maturity, responsibility, and open-heartedness among those who remember her and cherish the gift she has given of herself.

I am confident that she will be remembered and cherished by many, and discovered by many more in the years to come.