- i -
I was headed toward the cashier when I noticed him: a man wearing baggy pants, a black raincoat and a skittish demeaner. His eyes surveyed the check-out area, but it was the way he patted the outside of his right pants pocket that made me nervous. Pat pat pat, slipping hand inside his pocket and out again, then a second double pat to make sure it was there, or stayed put, or I don't know what.
Sixth sense raised the hair on the back of my neck and I could feel his presence to my right. He didn't appear to have a return (he wasn't carrying a bag) and he maintained a wide berth as if waiting for his turn in line. His weight shifted from side to side and I felt the world's sway.
Though it couldn't have made much difference had he "tried" anything, I inched as far to the left of him as I could, barely able to read the credit card swiper as I signed my name. Did he notice? Did he know why? Mentally, I calculated What I Would Do "If", and I thought serpentine and hit the floor and duck!
I felt guilty for judging him but I couldn't get out of there fast enough.
- ii -
When I arrived at church this morning, I wondered how many concealed weapons were in the building. I've never had that thought before.
I was 13 when the R-rated, Academy Award-winning film Network premiered, too young to see it even if I had wanted to. But I'm well aware of it's most famous scene and oft-quoted line…and it has been playing on endless reel in my mind since Friday mid-day. (Note: youtube clip contains R-rated profanity.)
- iv -
Most of the characters in the Harry Potter series are too frightened to call Evil by its name, referring to Voldemort instead as He Who Must Not Be Named or You Know Who. It's the ultimate sign of disrespsect and courage when Harry calls him by name.
When Evil wields its wicked hand against the innocents, I wish we'd agree to strip it of any shred of notoriety or gangster celebrity by forgetting the perpetrator's name. To splash it across every media channel on the planet only fuels the fantasies of madmen.
I visited Hitler's birthplace recently, its marker a stone removed from a concentration camp quarry. Rather than "honor" his memory with dates of his birth or cowardly suicide or even his name, it pays tribute to his innocent victims; the Memorial Stone, translated, says, "For Peace, Freedom and Democracy. Never Again Fascism. Millions of Dead Remind [us]".
I guess if they listed all of the victims by name, the town would be buried by a boulder.
- v -
Would anyone disgree that our country has changed a lot over the past 220+ years? I can't imagine.
Can everyone agree that regulation is not the same thing as an outright ban? Why is moderation or slowing the process such a threat?
Will more lives be saved by increasing or decreasing the number of guns?
I've never heard of anyone game hunting with an automatic or semi-automatic weapon….
Understandably, the Second Amendment is under fire right now; yep, I imagine the NRA is hunkering down, ready to defend by God our right to bear arms.
Excuse me, but what the hell is wrong with us?!
Put a gun in everyone's hand so we can defend ourselves against crazy bad guys? Can you imagine if a dozen Barney Fife's had been in the theater for the Batman premier last July?
I wish I was better informed to discuss the issue more intelligently; in a debate I'd be shredded by those who are practiced in their rhetoric. But then I see a glimmer of hope: someone political, intelligent, influential changes his mind. Enough is enough.
I do know this much: I don't want to sacrifice another child's life for my right to do anything.
I've grown weary of word wars.
- vi -
Five years ago, f i v e y e a r s a g o, I had this conversation with my then ten-year-old son and wrote about it:
During my 45-minute power walk/his 45-minute joyride, several cars passed us. My jaw dropped on this one:
Stephen: "Know what scares me when cars drive by?"
Me: (thinking he was going to say they'd accidentally veer into us…) "What?"
Stephen: "…that they have guns in there and they're going to shoot us."
He was serious.
My mother-comforting response went something like "Oh, baby, you don't need to worry about that…that's the last thing that would happen."
Tell that to the kids at Columbine or Virginia Tech :/….
There is no telling what's going on in the minds of children these days…how their psyche has been indirectly assaulted from the insanity of a random massacre. Perhaps this was a telling glimpse.
As he flew down the hill having already forgotten words that branded my heart, I silently prayed those desperate prayers that all mothers pray from cradle to grave…and wondered how in the world I'm supposed to hold my children loosely.
"… those desperate prayers that all mothers pray from cradle to grave…"
It's the scourge of our culture when those two are so close together.
I used to think I tell my children I love you too often; that maybe my frequent use diminished the depth of my affection.
They have no idea how hard it is to let them go, to let them be.
- vii -
I haven't cried.
I wonder if there's something wrong with me because I haven't cried.
Is it because my own littles are now so big?
False guilt is damning me and telling me something is broken inside.
Something is broken inside. Emotions collide.
I'm grateful to Rachel Held Evans who gave me permission to grieve this tragedy in my own way; we've not yet met but when we do I hope I remember to thank her.
My heart aches while I pray for strangers. They're with me as I fall asleep and when I open my eyes before daylight…especially the mothers who've had the dreams for their babies replaced with nightmares on Dickinson Street.
- viii -
I share their names to honor their lives.
(adults) Principal Dawn Hochsprung, Psychologist Mary Sherlach, Teachers Lauren Rousseau, Victoria Soto, Anne Marie Murphy, Rachel Davino; Nancy Lanza.
Kinders, Principal Hochsprung's pet name for these six and seven year olds: Olivia Engel, Emilie Parker, Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Josephine Gay, Ana Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison Wyatt.
Six degrees of separation, no…it's two. Noah is the nephew of a blogging friend. Other blogging friends, live there (Jamie) or close by (Jessie Leigh). Their thoughts were personal and helpful to read.
And with that, it slips closer to home.
- ix -
There's a lot of talk about God these days, where was he, how could he allow this to happen. Pastors have offered words of encouragement; they've reminded us about good things like hope and love and God's incarnation.
When preachers say this is warning and judgment and what we get for "taking prayer out of schools," or leaders decry we've " systematically removed God" from schools, I want to run from the label of "Christian."
Based on what I understand about God, he's omnipresent. If I'm praying, he's present no matter where I am. The Holy Spirit indwells me as a believer; I carry Christ with me wherever I go. Even in schools.
I can't hear the love of Christ when you're wagging your finger in my face.
- x -
I never mentioned what I'm writing about. When devastation shatters a nation and rattles the heavens, you don't even have to call it by name.
Additional thoughts from deep and heady thinkers and friends, VERY worthwhile reads:
Gandolf, Golf and Immanuel ~ Deidra Riggs
In search of light ~ Melanie / Big Mama
When parents have nightmares ~ Lisa Jo Baker
Something to ponder ~ Katherine Willis Pershey
Lamentations ~ Jen Hatmaker
An attempt to put words on heartache ~ Emily Freeman
God can't be kept out ~ Rachel Held Evans