Why did this happen? Why did children and adults have to die? Why do these violent acts keep happening?
How do we move forward? How do the families heal? How do we stop such terror from unfolding again? How can we unite alongside people of all backgrounds and situations and faiths and non-faiths and come together on at least this one thing? The safety of all. The life of all. Too many precious lives have been taken from this world. Too much possibility. Too much potential. Too much beauty is gone. How do we move forward?
I will never be able to answer the why. My only attempt is to say that no matter the why - God is and continues to be here. In this season, especially, we are reminded of this simple and comforting truth. God comes all the time. God never leaves our side. God cries with us. God wants us to have life. God never wanted for this to happen.
In the how, I find comfort in the memory. Not the memory of the deaths, but the memory of the lives. Goodness and love comes from each life that is taken by violence. And even though that physical life is gone, the goodness and love that came from it will never go away. And I think, even more than the memory, we will always have the spirit of the beloved. And my faith teaches me that the spirit can do amazing things. It can breathe in new life; it can be in many places at many times; it can bring warmth and healing and hope. It can live forever.
Because of this...all people who have died will never be forgotten. Their lives will continue to live on in powerful ways. But it takes work from the rest of us. We have to allow our hearts to heal and our spirits to soften from the pain and the agony and the anger that follows these kinds of losses. It takes time...it takes a lot of hugs and tears and laughter...and it takes prayer.
In the days to come, through the tears of grief and sorrow, I look forward to hearing the stories of how these lives are carried on. I look forward to hearing and watching our country and our world be blessed and strengthened by the lives of those we lost from Newtown, CT...and Aurora, CO...and Portland, OR...and from all places where untimely deaths have met the violent decision of someone who needed help more deeply than we will ever know.
Nobody ever said it was going to be easy. Why does it have to be so hard? We will never have a satisfying answer. How we deal with it and how we heal from it is, at least, a place to start.
I don't think it is time, yet, to begin on the how. But soon it will be. For now people of lost loved ones grieve and mourn and console one another. But soon....soon we will hear how the spirits live on. And I believe that can bring the kind of healing, and the kind of hope, and the kind of strength that even God could wish for out of a situation like this.
A lot of conversations will take place on a lot of different issues and topics because of the shootings. My prayer is that the lives lost can be remembered in ways that carry the goodness of their lives and the light of their spirits to the darkest corners of the earth. And the darkness will not overcome it.