It has taken me several days to process Friday’s events in Connecticut enough to get to a place in my head and my heart where I could write about it. I was in The Big Swirl frozen yogurt shop with John when I saw something on Twitter about a shooting.
Just then John tried to go behind the counter so we took off and headed over to GameStop to look for some Xbox accessories for David. John decided that would be a great place for a power dump, and it wasn’t until after I changed him that I sat in my car and read the story in full.
The magnitude of the tragedy was simply breathtaking, and I struggled to get my mind around it. What could have happened in this young, young man’s head that he could murder a class full of first graders?
In my mind I saw their faces as he came through the door, probably looking up in curiosity. As a parent my mind immediately went to my own third grade son sitting in his classroom, and two the toddler I’d just buckled into his car seat.
I wanted to be angry at the boy (because that’s really what he was) who had done this evil (because that’s it was), and I even expected to be mad at God for allowing it to happen but all I could feel to this very cold Sunday morning is a sadness so profound it coils in my guts like sickness. I think CS Lewis had it right when he said “no one ever told me grief felt so much like fear…”
I feel a grief of a level I haven’t felt since I was a teenager when I lost my parents and a good friend in my 16th, 17th, and 18th years. I didn’t know how to grieve that loss, and I don’t know how to grieve this one.
Clearly I didn’t know any of those children, but I grieve for them just the same. I grieve for their families. I grieve for what could have been. I grieve for the loss of so much innocence all at once.
I grieve for the teachers and faculty who died trying (some successfully and some not) to protect their students. I grieve for their families.
I grieve for the family of the murderer as well. The love they felt for the killer is no different than what the parents of the murdered children feel. Plus, this young man’s father has to live with what his son did and wonder where he fell short for the rest of his life.
I grieve for the country I love as well, because I feel this tragedy will not pull us together but further apart. It will be gun control vs gun owners and it will not stop.
I grieve because I know something like this will happen again.
I don’t blame the gun, or the killer’s mother for owning the ones used that morning. I don’t blame God or anyone else. God didn’t pull the trigger so many times Friday; a man did. I’m not going to get into the gun control debate today and maybe not at all, but I will say this (and I grieve the loss of my own innocence as well):
I own a gun. I bought it to shoot at targets. I have no plans to shoot any living thing.
But I would put a hundred bullets into the young man who did this thing to protect even a single child and I would be able to live with myself.
I read an excellent post by Morgan Freeman (find it on the Internet) which apportioned blame to media influenced sensationalism and I think that’s true, but not the only truth.
I think we’re failing our kids on a regular basis. So many have lost the idea that life is precious, and what binds us to it is little more than gossamer thread. Violence and violent imagery is ubiquitous. We expose our kids to it and we expose ourselves to it. It makes me despair for people. It makes me think there’s nothing to be done for the world. It makes me think there’s nothing anyone can do, the world is speeding to a sad and inevitable end.
It makes me think there is no hope.
There is hope, and that hope came to earth two millennia ago in a humble and quiet manner.
The hope for humanity is in the form of an obscure Nazarene carpenter who wore humanity for 33 years before dying for it. Our hope is not in a victory that can be achieved by strength of arms, though it is by blood.
We can’t change the hearts of our children, but we can tell them about who can. We can teach them to love like Jesus did. We can teach them every single life means something. We can teach them of the quiet heroism of school teachers and janitors.
I think if we just pour love into our kids then maybe we have a chance against this sort of thing.
Back to this morning. John woke up at 0600, and I brought him out to the couch. I skimmed through Twitter and Facebook, reading news stories about the shooting and people’s status updates about their lives, which carried on. Mine will, too.
Then I saw a picture, and it just wrecked me. It was a painting, really, on a post that was a poem with the rhyme structure and meter of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.’
In the painting, Jesus sat in a classroom surrounded by children, and a teacher was reading to her students from a children’s book.
There will be more pictures in the days to come. Many words will be spoken and written, and not all of them will be loving.
I think the thing to remember is that everyone grieves differently, and we should allow them that. Some will cry, some will pray, some will be angry. Some will curse God or call for the weapons of all gun owners.
We need to let people process their grief in their own way, and then we can move on.
We need to talk about a lot of things.