Wednesday, December 2, 2015

On terror and grace found in the library


There was another shooting today. I found out about it during a meeting that was covering a difficult topic. I found out that there were mentally disabled people involved and that there was an "active shooter".

Mass shootings have become all too common - so much so that many of us don't react anymore, except to acknowledge that it's tragic and then explain why this confirms or is generally unrelated to our politics. But today it was different for me. Today when I heard the news, I got nauseous and closed my eyes. I swallowed a lump in my throat. I prayed desperately and constantly - for the people involved, for the shooter to stop, for the softening of American hearts towards some kind of gun control.

I asked those around me to not hear the details, explaining that I just couldn't handle it right now, that I would look it up when I got home and could process and cry. And I thought about how it is prudent for every school, business, and family to have a plan and practice for these things, just like we practice for natural disasters like fires and tornados. I became scared.

In the wake of other recent events, I read a post about three reactions we have to terrorism: denial, transmission, and transformation. Allow me to pause here and say that there is SO much transmission on Facebook. It's hard to know what to do with our fears, and spreading them is sometimes the only way we know how to relieve the pressure. [Read here about being an anxious or non-anxious presence.] I thought today about being a non-anxious presence, about ways to react to the shooting with "creative non-violent courage". But mostly, I just felt scared to go out into the world, scared of how fragile life is.

Caleb asked me if I would be willing to go get him a library book while he changed the oil in the car. I wanted to stay blockaded into my house, where I had the illusion of control, but I went. I was afraid, but I went. I couldn't find the book he wanted and was going to give up, but decided to ask a librarian. [Bless the librarians.] After I reached out to this stranger, my fear started to dissipate. I needed her help, and she offered it. Something shifted inside me and fear started to drain away.

You guys. We NEED each other. And we need to examine our fears and prejudices and the scary things and face them. It is the only way forward. It's a step we all need to take together, because we cannot do it alone.