None of us escaped the fire…

I had taken medicine that put me into a much needed respite from coughing, sneezing, and head pounding when I heard some TV anchor mention a shooting in Newton, Connecticut.  I quickly took the remote and muted the TV.  I didn’t mute the TV because I wanted sleep.  Rather, I muted the TV because I wanted to escape.  I did not want to hear about another tragedy.  Later that day, I finally permitted myself to hear the story and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing.

My heart immediately sunk.  I then turned the TV off, as again, I couldn’t hear anymore.  I’d rather stay in my cozy and comfortably sweet location of blissful ignorance.  After all, once we’ve been informed, educated and enlightened it leads to action, or it should.  So, I didn’t want to have to envision 20 children laying in their classroom lifeless.  It just seemed horrible to imagine a room that is designed for enlightenment, learning and play had become an execution site and ultimately an overnight morgue.  I didn’t want to have to try to imagine what first responders saw upon their arrival at that school.  A principal.  Teachers.  Children.  One sole man, who found the valley of despair that engulfed and overwhelmed his mind to a paralysis from reasonable thought.  Yeah, I just wanted to be out of the loop on that one.  I wanted to escape.

I felt angry.  I felt angry at a world where this could exist, again.  I felt angry at how insensitive we are about gun control.  I felt angry at the church for caring about irrelevant things like “should we or should we not have the passing of the peace as a part of the worship experience or should the pastor be wearing jeans or suits or why doesn’t the usher board find a way to stop people from coming in the sanctuary at the start of service as it is so disruptive to us”.  I wanted to say to such foolishness, in a loud resounding voice, “who cares?”  I was mad at the world.  I was mad for being grateful it wasn’t my children.  I was mad at my own thinking that we escaped such a tragedy, just as this area escaped the anger of another Sandy, Superstorm Sandy.  But, Sandy Hook was on the hook with a tragedy unbearable for the mind to fathom, the heart to bear and the soul to soothe.  I was mad at my inability to go along with the theological assertion that “God knows how much we can bear.”  We actually, can’t bear this.  We can’t carry this.  I wanted some kind of escape, a pass of sorts that would give me permission to sit out on this national crisis.I am actually going to call this a global crisis.

I then figured that if I didn’t think about what the houses were like where earlier that morning kids were being dressed for school having awakened from a safe night’s sleep, I could escape.  Yes, I wouldn’t have to try ask the string of endless questions with those parents, “How can my child be snatched from me?  How can my child be at the table for breakfast and not for dinner?  Why couldn’t I have protected them?”  Maybe, if I wouldn’t think about those pastors and church leaders who have to utter a Word from a God that many feel have abandoned the human condition and ultimately can’t love a people that is allowed to experience this undefinable agony, I could escape.  I figured I wouldn’t think about how I would quit that day as a police officer after coming on that scene or an EMS after having bagged precious babies.  I wanted to escape.  I didn’t want to imagine any sounds of guns firing.  I did not want to think about the raging young man that a mother couldn’t calm.  I just didn’t have the energy.

But, the truth is, I still think about it.  I still hurt over it.  My heart is shattered and yet, I do not know what it means to walk through a tragedy like that.  While my children so far have been shielded from such an act, I realize that we have not escaped.

The nation was in that classroom, as we are all that vulnerable to events just like that or worst than that.  We have not escaped anything.  There is no escape.  Guns are here to fulfill our passion and symbolize our frenzied patriotic testosterone around a wild, wild west of a feeling that we can protect, guard, annihilate and shoot everything coming toward us.

Those parents, those teachers, those students, children, older, younger brother and sister who remain to retell this day for years to come, as we will as well, have not escaped and there is no escape.  We are forever trapped in a sick culture that too easily leans on violence as an answer to the pain of loss, sadness, disengagement, mental illness and chaos.

We’ve not escaped as long as there is a Great Commission, to Go ye into all the world, baptizing and teaching.

The promise that concludes that text is what actually gives me hope.  Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of age.  I am with you in Newton, Connecticut.  I am with you in moments that are the hardest for you to endure.  I am with you when you have been crushed beyond belief.  That’s the promise we have.  That’s the promise, and not the escape that I am choosing to hold on to.

Lord grant us grace, that in pain we may find comfort, in sorrow hope and in death resurrection.

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~ by bkevinsmalls on December 18, 2012.

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