The world, I believe, is still beautiful. The sun fills my kitchen in Denver with pure light. If I close my eyes, I can feel the warmth of that light. And yet I feel pain, too. The kind of pain that almost belies the reality of words. Still, I will try.
Yesterday a student at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado walked into his school with the intention to kill a teacher. That teacher had left the school. The boy went on to shoot a classmate who remains in critical condition at the time I write, and then that boy shot and killed himself. The world now knows that the events could have been far worse. Do not misread: in no way am I trivializing the day. It is horrible on its own terms.
No one, however, dares to view this latest school shooting on its own terms -- and not only because last week marked the one year anniversary of the 20 students and six teachers killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
There is a problem so deep and seemingly impenetrable in our society that it is ripping the fabric of our stability in two: safe and unsafe. There is a problem with gun control and legislation. There is a problem with the violent videos and television and films our children watch. There is a problem with people who falsely proclaim their faith to harm others. There is a problem with teenagers and parents and middle-aged people, too, not valuing the preciousness of human life.
Back to the younger generation. Here's the paradox: too many of our youth have a perverse obsessions with death as the easy answer, yet their minds aren't mature enough to grasp its permanence, nor the lifetime of consequences and loss. Our society fixates on death without understanding the nature of grief.
I know about loss.
I know that young children who have lost a parent or brother or sister or friend will live in a state of continuous vulnerability.
I know that these same children will search for their missed loves ones in the sky, the car, the closet, at grandma's house.
I know that year after year these children will repeatedly ask the simple question, "why?"
I know that their parents will struggle to give explanations that hold any real meaning.
I know that faith is a balm, but sometimes too abstract.
I know that anxiety borne from loss can be crippling.
I know that childhood lasts just once.
I know that loss is forever.
Might we stop for a moment to reflect upon our collective consciousness? Might we just spend the day thinking about our own thoughts and actions, and how we can be a lifeline to those in our family, our community, our nation, our world? Might we put aside our frustrations and be gentle with our children? Might we have real conversations about values? Might we all just stop and breathe and think about peace in our lives and peace in our world?
That is my prayer.