It has already been a week since SPU joined the rapidly growing ranks of schools that have been attacked. Summer break has mostly begun; graduation is these next few days for my school and after that, many people will be gone. The campus that just last week was covered with family, solidarity, prayer, flowers, reaching out to one another, is already empty. Desolate compared to what it was. In Your Mercy, Lord, hear the prayer of the lonely, those still in need of family, solidarity, prayer, flowers, reaching out. Bless those who are caring for others even as they themselves need care. Lord, in Your mercy, use me, (heart)broken vessel that I am, how You will.
Tuesday night was the first time in my life that I’ve had to walk out during a final exam. (Lord, in Your mercy, bless my professor who had such grace for me.) And yet, still, I do not want to “process” the attack on the SPU community as if it is merely another event on an assembly line. I confess, I am having to war against complacency and numbness, which I am turning to for self-protection against the seemingly unending stream of violence bleeding out into this world, against paralysis, against dark, abyssal grief, both for the fallen – that kids again have died and been wounded at school – and for my powerlessness.
But…am I allowed to feel this fractured? I was not in lockdown for two hours last Thursday, though I did put myself on house arrest since I live about 200 feet from campus. I was not an undergrad, I didn’t know Paul or Sarah or Thomas or Jon. I was not a witness, though I did hear the 10 minutes of siren scream and hours of helicopter thunder. And yet, I was also not one of those pictured by the media and spun around the globe, somberly posed in prayer, either, reaching out to others who are also hurting, joining hands with my family. I was okay-ish for about five days. Now, I am a ping-ponging, inconsistent mess who cannot find it in me to reach out to those I desperately need right now. And, Lord, have mercy, I’ve got one more final paper to write. Rich Mullins says, or sings, it best: “Hold me, Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf. You have been king of my glory, won’t you be my prince of peace?”
I’ve gotten searingly angry at You, Lord. That you’d allow the destruction of our beautiful world, that’d You’d not protect it from our blind consumerism and greed, that it really does seem like “it’s all gonna burn” and You give permission for evil and devastation to abound around like wild dogs. You know what I’m talking about. In Your mercy, You still listen (I think). Why is there no anger now? There’s a school shooting every week it seems and I’ve been within very close proximity of two now, just like one of my classmates. That’s two too many, as my mother wrote to me, but the feeling I have toward You – and even the shooters – isn’t anger. The feeling is…panic? Have I already started to accept this kind of violence as the norm? Do I really believe Your heart breaks even more than ours? Will I be found in You even as I’m unable to do anything healing? Will I be found by You even if I can’t reach towards You? Will I find You if I do?