We walk the kids to school like we do most mornings. Everything we can see is the same – uphill most of the way there, we stop to tie a shoe or two. I wrap cold hands around a half-full coffee mug.
When we get to the doors, the warm air from the building pulls us inside. But we’re walking sideways and distracted today, still shaken by images we’ve only seen in our heads. Normal thoughts swirl around with terrible thoughts – I hug my six year old bye for the day, laughing at the look he gives me.
Still smiling, I look over his shoulder into his classroom to see if there is a closet where the teacher could hide them.
There’s no closet, but there is a bathroom. That should do.
We walk away from the door, notice they’ve changed the artwork in the main hallway. I’m still thinking about his classroom, all those coats hanging on hooks on the wall.
I make dinner at the end of the day and for the first time since last Friday, I feel a wave of anger rise up in me. It comes strong and unexpected and brings tears of rage.
The chili starts to boil. I turn off the stove and set the pot on a cool eye. Chili isn’t supposed to boil.
Teachers aren’t supposed to have to hide kids in closets. Or bathrooms.
I thought I would only write one post about all this, but I’m not sure who I thought I was. I know this isn’t the first school shooting. But something about this one feels so personal.
As I stand at the sink after dinner, hot water runs over the heavy bowl. I lose my grip and the bowl slips. It’s loud and the water splashes my face and arms, soaking my shirt.
I have real emotion over it, mutter under my breath. Immediately, a flash of guilt - what have you got to be frustrated about?
I nearly stopped there, letting the guilt push me into proper behavior of thankfulness.
But as I become more fully myself, I think I’m also accepting my humanity in more complete ways.
I’m still going to roll my eyes at telemarketers and mutter when I drop dishes. My first response is still a human one when small annoying things happen the same way my first response is a human one when huge, unthinkable things happen.
We are fully human and our emotions run deep – our anger is red and sharp, our sorrow the deepest shade of blue.
Though I’ve only seen maybe fifteen minutes total of the news coverage, I have images in my head that I can’t get out. We all do – not the pictures we’ve seen, but the ones we imagine. I don’t want to imagine things from the classrooms, but the images come anyway.
It is horrifying.
We can’t linger there.
The things we feel most deeply – be it anger or sadness or fear – let these be hints of how to pray. Let your particular personality become fully awake in the midst of the questions. Where is your burden heaviest? Pray that.
I am an intense feeler with a sensitive imagination, and so I feel pressed to pray in the ways that make sense to me. I pray that those children and teachers and first responders who have survived will have renewed imaginations. That somehow, the horror of what their eyes have seen, what their souls have lived through, will fade.
There is an honest part of me that doubts that is possible.
I read Psalm 23, read about the Lord as Shepherd, the kind who leads and quiets and calms.
The kind who restores souls.
Lord, may it be so.