Terrible things happened at a high school in South Florida on February 14, 2018. There was a young man in extreme pain who felt he had no better options than to murder. Many in his life had failed him, and yet he had also failed himself. He chose to make others pay a horrible price for his pain.
And yet - as it needs to be pointed out - something wonderful happened a few hours later. A four year-old girl named Heidi Todd, who was kidnapped from her home here in Charleston the day before after her abductor had beaten her mother, was found alive and well several states away. The unthinkable had happened to this family, and yet their daughter's return surpassed the odds, thanks to strangers who were alert, aware, and ready to help.
I cannot tell you why some people live or some people die. I cannot tell parents why they bore children and worked hard to raise and protect them their whole lives, only to have them gunned down in a classroom, at a concert, or at their church. As a parent myself, I feel like I am now in this pool of potential grief sufferers who must play the odds every time they send their child out into the world.
Many cite tragic occurrences as proof of the absence of God, while many tout miracles as proof of God's favor and interference. I'd like to offer a different narrative.
What I do know for sure is that this is complex world we live in full of dualities. While unspeakable tragedies happen in one place, miracles occur someplace else. Good and evil is found everywhere at at the same time. Parents lose children, children lose their parents, divorce happens, job loss, abuse, conflicts, fires consume homes, the list goes on; and at the same time, families reconcile, addicts live another day sober, new life enters into the world, a business succeeds, friends laugh together, and families hold each other close at the end of the day. The sun rises, and the sun sets, full of beauty and renewed faithfulness every time. Life can be horrible, brutal and callous, and yet beautiful and full of mystery all at the same time. That is a part of what it means to be human.
Are there things we can do to improve something that has failed us? Are there hard discussions that might be upsetting to some people that need to be had? Are there ways that we can wake up to the injustices found in our own lives and use that pain to help heal others? Absolutely. We are all required to do our part in the ongoing healing of the world. It was said once that it is not our job to finish the work, however neither is it our place to ignore it.
And that process, let us mourn for those who are grieving, let us tell those who are suffering that they are seen and are not alone, and let us have gratitude and joy in all of the goodness that we have been given to experience in this moment, during this day. Tomorrow, the next hour, the next minute has never been guaranteed to anyone.
In the face of it all, here is my prayer:
Help me to stand firm in the fullness of life, - rejoicing for the good, mourning the bad, and all that lies in between - and to continue to do my part in the work for the continual reconciliation and healing of this world.
Wishing you grace and peace, my friends -
This is where I write.