Another catastrophe devastates us all with its unecessary tragedy today. 33 dead at Virginia Tech.
I can only imagine how the people lined up against the wall and executed, or hunted down, felt. I hope I never know, I hope my children never know. I hope we always only can imagine. And this, this thought, is exactly what every person, every parent hopes.
Today, some lost that hope. And that may be the least of the loss.
Gwen said she's so glad to know it's people who kill people, not guns. She begs us to consider the damage the Virginia Tech murderer might have inflicted with a knife.
I said good point.
Jen said God has been noticeably absent.
I said, "It is a tragedy beyond words.
I will say...God gave man freedom of will. This was not God's will; it was man's will. God was not absent. I am sure God was more present than ever. But he will not remove freedom of will. I am sure God was more anguished by heart than any of us, and that's both saying a lot, and very, very cold comfort. If it helps to blame God, that's okay. He can take it. Just remember he is always open.
Right now, the only thing is grief. I say let it wash over us so we feel it and know it, and are changed by it."
Chani, in the midst of her own grief, said, "May there be some peace for all those who died, are wounded, their friends and families." and in her own life, said, "I must find compassion for the hole in his soul. I must. Because it is the only acceptable thing to do. The anger has to stop somewhere."
I said amen.
Bones listed statistics and asked what we should do.
I said listen, pay attention, hope.
I think for the rest of us---those not with a true loss---the biggest challenge is to not feel hopeless. I think, in truth, hopelessness is a direct contributor to this tragedy.
More than ever, I feel the drive to write about justice, and forgiveness. Please join me on Wednesday. This week. I'll list you here, and others, some of whom may really want to read words about this, can find something valuable.
Tomorrow I teach. I teach a class about managing conflict between and among students and their peers. Tonight I stay awake late quickly re-arranging my curriculum and talking points.
Tonight...our best friends came over. We grilled, drank raspberry iced tea, and the kids ran and played. Tonight my five year old's biggest concern was counting how many mosquito bites she had. How beautiful is that.
After dinner, while my friend and I prepared dessert, the dads played silly faux-monster wrestling games with the kids. They wrestled---one man against five kids---in turn. The screaming was delight. The yelling was joy, and fun. This is the sound that rings in my ears.
I never have any promises of anything tomorrow so today, I seized the day. It felt beautiful to find beauty and enjoyment in tonight.
Today is not my grief, but I respect that someone else feels the need to stop all the clocks.
W. H. Auden
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
P.S. Please just email me or comment with a link if you wish to participate in our roundtable discussion of justice versus forgiveness: which is more crucial? j pippert at g mail dot com.
copyright 2007 Julie Pippert