Wednesday, October 04, 2006

‘What Is Happening To Us?’

Coming off a fairly idyllic weekend and into the mess that is this world, it’s hard to swallow the shooting Monday at an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania. Evidently, some nutjob put his own kids on their bus to school, loaded up his truck with weapons, toilet paper, and 600 rounds of ammo, backed it up to the remote school, and let loose years of rage and hatred on about a dozen little girls.

Some of these were girls my daughter’s age. My daughter’s size.

He lined them up, faces to the blackboard, bound their feet, and executed five of them before he took his own ugly life.

It’s impossible not to think of my own tiny daughter with her feet bound, and me so far away, not knowing what she’s going through, not able to comprehend her fear and pain, not able to help her at all, even in passing out of this life. I cannot begin to imagine the horror those children felt, or that of their parents, or the unimaginable grief at what those last moments must have been like for those children before they were lost.

Why do things like this happen? What is propelling these angry, deeply unhappy men toward such unthinkable acts of violence? Why can’t we prevent it?

Well, sometimes, we just can’t. There is an ugly side to the world, and this is a window in on that. Who could have stopped a guy with a truck and 600 rounds of ammo in Amish Country unless the Psychic SWAT Team was able to get to him before he got inside that schoolhouse? As a coworker said, a horse and buggy don’t go that fast.

So we grieve. I am grieving. I grieve for the way those children met death, I grieve for their parents and families, for that community – if it can happen there, well – and for the family of that man whose lives he also shattered. I grieve that anyone should walk around with whatever that guy carried inside, and never feel safe telling someone or asking for help before it drives them to commit a horrible atrocity.

And I grieve for all our children, and our selves, because we are reminded how frail everything really is, how little most things matter in the end, because all we have is one instant.

And living for that instant, and in it, is important. As hard as it is to do, we have to make peace, and move on. Don’t drag behind you the dead weight of those who can’t forgive or understand. Free yourself. Love, and allow yourself to be loved. Help other people. Let them help you.

Look your children in the eye every single day and say, “I love you.” Thank their teachers.

Recognize shadow. Most of us carry around a wounded something deep down and the best intentions can just fall into that black hole. Don’t take it personally. Continue to try.

In trying to understand this mess, I was scrolling through my library and bumped into one of my all time favorite performers. I love Vance Gilbert. No he’s not bluegrass. But he possesses one of the most beautiful, rich voices and one of the most penetrating songwriting styles I’ve ever encountered, and he will always remain on my I Love You list. This song stands out, sung alone without accompaniment, and begging the question why in a different way.

Love and peace to all those touched in recent weeks by losses to violence committed in American schools. If anyone figures out what is happening to us, let me know.

Let Me Know
from the album
One Thru Fourteen

Am I sheep or am I sheperd?

Let me know
Am I sheep or am I sheperd?
Let me know
Am I sheperd? Am I sheep?
And when these waters get too deep
Will you take me in my sleep?
Lord let me know

Am I walkin or am I flying?
Let me know
Am I walkin or am I flying?
Let me know Am I walking?
Am I flying?
Lord please dry these tears I'm crying
I don't understand Lord, but I'm trying
So let me know

Am I rock or am I water?
Let me know
Am I rock or am I water?
Let me know
Am I rock? Am I water?
And if my mamma's still you daughter
Will you teach me what you taught her?
Let me know

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