A few days have passed since the terror attacks in Paris, the city of light. The wound is beginning to close for us, the TV watchers. Not so for the victims-the dead and their families.
I listened to the leaders of nations struggle to utter words of consolation that could match, head on, the force of the bullets and bombs that have torn a hole in the western world.
They each brought language to the hard task of being strong, empathetic, and forward looking-all at the same time.
Here is a small portion of their efforts:
Hollande: "a terrorist army ... a jihadist army, [has committed an act of war] against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: A free country that means something to the whole planet."
Obama: "This is an attack not just on Paris, it's an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share."
Putin: "Russia strongly condemns this inhumane killing and is ready to provide any and all assistance to investigate these terrorist crimes."
David Cameron: "I will be chairing a meeting of COBRA this morning following the horrifying and sickening terror attacks in Paris."
Merkel: "We are crying with France."
I am not going to critique these passages. They were crafted in the heat of battle. They are all well-meaning.
But I like Merkel's the best. When I read the text of her remarks, I stopped thinking about what the attacks meant, and just felt the sorrow.
I think it was that one word-crying. It's not an eloquent word-it's not weeping. It's not a formal word, or a strong one, or a manly one, or a vengeful one. It's a word of collapse, a word that allows us a momentary surrender to grief, to sit with our sorrow, and cry.