On the trip to this summer job, I drove through countless cities and states, flying past the homes, the towns, the livelihoods of thousands of faces, people I’ve never seen before. As I settled into the slow lane in Connecticut, taking in my surroundings, I passed the green and white exit sign that read “Sandy Hook.” Immediately, I was taken back to that day. How I felt – staring at the news screens, reading article after article, hoping to God the never-ending flood of horrific information would be revoked. I thought of the tiny children, of the families going through the motions of life. Then BAM. A shift. A catastrophic event that triggers us to ask that question over and over…
“Dear Lord… WHY???”
Today, as the nation and the world grapple with the incredible devastation in Orlando, my mind wanders again to that sunken feeling. It’s familiar. It’s all too familiar.
As I sit in the back seat of a car in rural Massachusetts, I am far removed, impersonally linked to the happenings of the world. In a place where the nearest store is a fifteen minute drive, I’ve traded in days of uselessly spending my savings on spontaneous coffees or trinket purchases to wifi-less, cheap living. I feel guilty for not knowing the news sooner. I feel remorse for those who were shamelessly dancing the night away at their favorite Saturday night spot, oblivious to the historical shooting about to occur. I feel unsafe knowing that there are actually people in this world – MULTIPLE people – who can create such chaos, such hurt, such utter pain and disaster. And yet I feel a sense of calm at how the local people have responded – donating blood, showing support in every way possible.
I’m thinking about the young people who’ve been halted in their pursuit of life ahead. I’m thinking about how I’ve been feeling – at this crossroads of life where everything and nothing could happen. No ties, no real next steps past this summer experience. I’m thinking about how some of those people may very well have been in my spot, feeling something similar. They could have been my age, maybe younger. Enjoying time with friends, doing what they’ve always done, not even with a second thought.
Yesterday was such a jam-packed day. Putting on events for the community people of the Berkshires and again facilitating an event in the evening for the organization’s donors. For the first time, I felt integrated. People swirled around the campus of this place and danced and laughed and enjoyed and loved and I got to be a part of it. I thought about how content I was. How life is unfolding so marvelously here and I feel immensely honored to be a part of such a historical place of artistry.
What about them? What were those people doing yesterday? What were they getting ready to pursue? To achieve? What made them happy and hopeful in those hours before leaving this earth?
So, where do we go from here?
Do we drown ourselves in worry and sorrow each time these events occur? Absolutely. I know I do. These events are unfolding so frequently that I don’t have enough fingers to count the times I’ve felt nervous to walk into an airport, a movie theater, a college classroom, and now… a nightclub. But life goes on. Life must go on or else each day is a waste. We don’t live. We can’t possibly enjoy, experience, inquire, learn, love.
My prayers, my thoughts, my heart goes out to all of those that were linked to the massacre in Florida early this morning. And, of course, my prayers go out to each and every one of you. Wishing you safety, wishing you hope. Wishing you all the best, today and everyday.
A message from Stephen:
I’ve been trying to find the right article to share or the right words to say, but it basically comes down to this:
I’m just completely shattered about the events that have happened in Orlando.
I’m so frustrated that it’s so easy for people to hate when it is so much easier to love.
And I’m scared. For my future. For the future of those around me, who I care about deeply. For the future of my children. I’m scared that this is becoming normal. We have to protect each other, regardless of race or sexuality or religion. We have to love each other.