I awakened this morning, haunted by the 20 innocents slaughtered yesterday. My heartache at this is palpable; yet I am aware that our nation grieves with me.
This haunting extends beyond those 20 children. My mind cannot begin to grasp what the parents of those children are dealing with this morning. Or the traumatized children whose school was so violated. Or the faculty and staff who have the images of horrified, frightened small faces seared into their imaginations. Or the parents of children who survived, burdened now with the “thank God not mine,” all while understanding the torment of the parents of the children who did not.
And that small community itself, stripped now of its innocence and the pretense that horrors did not happen there.
There is no sense to be made of this. I find the question, “how could this happen?” to be completely useless. The sad truth is that we live in a culture whose mental healthcare system is so neglected that something like this can happen. We live in a culture that so values the right to own any kind of gun that a person can obtain multiple weapons easier than they can get a driver’s license.
And the scale of those who pay for this cultural insanity is inordinately tipped toward our children.
And so we wake, as a nation, grief-stricken and keenly aware of our own powerlessness. We are powerless to protect our children.
As I write this morning, my house is full of sleeping 20-something boys. They were out together into the wee hours. As they left last night, happy to be together, they were arguing about who was to be the designated driver, with me echoing a nagging refrain in the background, my maternal heart newly reminded of the dangers. They would have a designated driver, but what about the other cars on the road when these boys return here at ? There it is: the powerlessness.
And yet, our children must wander out into the world where all manner of horrors live. Mentally ill young men with easy access to guns. Drunk drivers. A misjudgment of height and ability, resulting in a tragic fall. A sudden, virulent disease.
Our impulse, in the face of this, is to DO something. Investigate. Blame. Make casseroles.
We busy ourselves and take what comfort we can in that activity.
But I really think the greatest question for all of us is how can I BE today? How can I be love today to the people I encounter? How to my children, my parents, my neighbors? How can I be mindfully loving to the person who checks my groceries at Kroger?
Last night, I watched the community of
gather for vigils as they began the long journey of grieving all they had lost.
I imagined a community drawing in to surround the families who lost their
children and to help the traumatized survivors. There seemed to me an intention
to love wherever they can.
What if we all choose to do that? Wherever we are. How can I be love today, in
Nashville, or Boston,
or Berlin? Wherever you are reading
this—how can you be love to those you encounter today?
My heart tells me that if I begin where I am, love can make a difference. It’s the only thing that does.