Never Enough Coins in the Red Bucket

by Sherry Jennings

—Written after the slaughter of 140 teenage school children in Pakistan on Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Slamming of doors, smashing of plates, even a deep desire to slap a face or hurl a rock. These have been mine. I cannot deny the unspoken judgments or the unkind words which have so easily slid across my lips and into a heart. These too have been mine.

I can even imagine an anger that pulls the trigger, a feeling in the gut so intense, so painful, speaking of a hurt so deep, like the acid burn in the throat when the body rejects the poisonous food—a nanosecond reaction that renders a relationship, a hope, a life irretrievable. Perhaps there was a loss of innocence as a child. Perhaps there was not enough love or some basic human need not met.

Something, there must have been something, some reaction, some rationale, to explain why it happened—why the gate on aggression did not close.

But this…

I try to stretch into openness, to take it in, to comprehend so that I don’t just retreat in the face of what I can only call utter senselessness—some way to take this in, this slaughter of the innocents. I ask myself questions as I try to understand. When did the virus first infect their hearts and disrupt their minds? Where were they when the impulse flashed before their eyes? How could they do it? But most of all…why?

My rational mind can find no way to wrap itself around the horror of children dying for no reason. My heart recoils from the possibility that human beings could actually commit such an act against those just coming into their potential. Abuse, loss, shame, pain—none of this is enough for my brain or my heart.

Really all I can do is cry, cry tears that sting my cheeks. My mind tells me they are salt tears but the image that imprints itself behind my eyes is that the wetness is red, is blood. Perhaps to cry bloody tears is the only way that I can share in the suffering of the dreams unfulfilled, the journeys not taken, the lives lost.

I have intentionally blotted out the news, the facts, and the rising hatred. Yet I cannot blot out my heavy heart. What can I do to honor and to ease? Coins in the red bucket beside the bell ringer won’t fix it. A present for someone I just remembered I wanted to thank won’t fix it. Writing messages on the cards that I bought three years ago and never sent won’t fix it. I feel helpless in the face of such wrath, such actions. I can never drop enough coins in the red bucket to fix this.

Still I grasp for meaning, for understanding. The only thing my mind can land on is forces longing to destroy goodness, to gain control—forces with a clarity of intention to change the world, to interfere with destiny. As I search the depths, I cannot comprehend this intention to destroy goodness, to deny the humanity that lives in each of us.

What is left for me? I will grieve. I will pray.


Soosen Dunholter
Labyrinth lights by Soosen Dunholter


Sherry Jennings lives in Wilton, New Hampshire. She has been a Waldorf Early Childhood teacher for over 40 years. Sherry always knew that there was a writer inside; however, teaching and parenting kept her quite busy. Upon retiring two years ago, she made the decision to treat herself to a 10-week writing workshop with Kate Gleason. After one week, Sherry was addicted and is now exploring her writer self in several genres—poetry, fiction, and personal essays.

The mixed-media work of award-winning artist Soosen Dunholter, has been exhibited in solo and group shows in galleries and cultural centers throughout New England. Her minimalist and textual work focuses on the interplay between form, color, and line upon subtle and appealing surface treatment, which invites infinite exploration. Soosen is a member of Monotype Guild of New England, New England Wax, Women’s Caucus for Art /NH, Monadnock Art/Friends of the Dublin Art Colony, Sharon Arts Center/NHIA and Monadnock Hospital’s Healing Arts Gallery board. You can see more of Soosen’s Sophisticated yet Whimsical Art in her Peterborough, New Hampshire studio, or at and

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