I went to pick up my four-year old daughter today from her preschool located inside a community church. I had a relatively good day trying to be reflective and more available and open to Spirit, and less distracted by the noise of social media or the news. So you can imagine my reaction when I learned of today’s horrific news that a 24-year old gunman opened fire at an elementary school claiming lives too many to count without streaming tears of helplessness. I must be dreaming.
It seemed surreal as I stood there zipping my baby girl’s jacket, adjusting her barrette which I apparently clipped too tight this morning. I could hear the chilling words from the chief reporting parent, as well as the words of the other mothers chiming in to confirm what they had also heard, but I was hearing all of this for the first time. None of it made sense.
I am sure that finding meaning in all of this was on the minds of all the parents and grandparents gathered to retrieve their children, but it was too early to contemplate. What will parents tell their children about their murdered friends, classmates, neighbors, or even siblings?
I stand away from Connecticut, but still know that tragedies like these seem to be hitting closer to “home”. Violence is quickly becoming a growing trend, and our most vulnerable are often the victims. In this case, it was children and courageous teachers who seem to be working in hostile times instead of developmental classrooms. Please someone, tell me I am hearing wrong.
I loaded my girl into her safety seat and then my heart sank. I looked back at her more often than usual, to make sure that she was still there, safely buckled and intact where I left her. I needed her fully awake and present. I needed to see her eyes. I looked for comfort and assurance beyond their glimmer. I needed to hear some more incessant pleading, and annoying requests. I don’t mind them, nor do I complain today. I needed to hear her.
My heart grows heavy with the knowledge that there are parents, not too far from here, who will not have the same privilege this evening. Instead, grief and an overwhelming sense of incomprehensibility await them. Though we who stand outside of their community empathize, we’ll mostly go on about our business, while their realities will be forever altered. I pray that one day these families will find the strength that they need to carry on, but in the meantime, as they search to find meaning, I hope that a comforting touch, a deeply pressed hug, and the openness and sincerity of community will tend to their hearts and homes during a very difficult time. This is my hope.
We may never find the words to describe this condition which seems to plague folk determined to carry out violence for whatever selfish, angry reasons they have, but I pray that our response will be one that will help these families find meaning in this. But I am not sure anyone can. I trust that in time we learn to trust, hope, and just breathe again.