On Saturday, they found Jacob.
If you live in Minnesota, or if you lived in Minnesota during the past 27 years, you know what I’m talking about. Jacob Wetterling was eleven years old in 1989, when he, his brother, and a friend were biking down a country road. A masked man with a gun stopped them and took Jacob. Basically the nightmare scenario for any parent or caregiver of a child.
Jacob’s family never gave up. They never stopped searching; never stopped hoping. Every year on October 22nd, the day Jacob was taken, the Wetterlings encouraged people to leave their porch lights on. The light was a symbol of solidarity and hope. It lit the way home for Jacob and for other lost and missing children. The work of the Wetterlings and the foundation they started was not only for Jacob, but for all children. Because of the Wetterlings, sex offender registeries exist. Because of the Wetterlings, most missing children do find their way home.
On Saturday, Jacob found his way home, though not in the way thousands of people had hoped and prayed that he would. His remains were found 25 miles from where he disappeared.
The news was devastating for many. But the Wetterlings have taught us well, so people responded like this: they turned their porch lights on. Across Minnesota, across the United States, across the world, the lights came on.Beacons of love and support.For Jacob, for his family,for all the other children who are missing or suffering still.For all of them, the light shines.
Turning on the light reminds us that we are called to bear light and hope into the world. We are called to shine the light of hope and love into the dark and broken places in our world.
Jacob’s mother, Patty Wetterling, is still teaching and inspiring us. Here is her list of ways to bring her comfort in the wake of her fresh heartbreak. It’s a good list for us all, all the time:
Say a prayer.
Light a candle.
Be with friends.
Play with your children.
Eat ice cream.
Help your neighbor.
That is what will bring me comfort today.
Let’s light candles and eat ice cream. Let’s help our neighbors. Let’s create joy. Let’s be bringers of hope and light.
It’s dark out there. But as Peter, Paul, and Mary sing (in all their retro fabulousness), don’t let the light go out. Let it shine through our love and our tears.
How are you bringing light today, or how is someone else bringing it to you?