Social media swept the story across the world in mere seconds, giving rise to typical and inevitable accusations, theories and debates. I experienced a true level of frustration at the fact that the debating and arguing began before those slain have even been given over to their families to begin the mourning process. I find that part of the whole thing to be shameful, distasteful and disrespectful to the memories of the ones slain and to the integrity of the surviving loved ones. Now is not the time to raise squabbling and ranting about gun control, or how the United States should be able to manage this type of insanity more efficiently.
So, how do we get through this type of tragedy, when it is so overwhelming and so senseless? It tears at the heart in a particularly piercing manner to know that 20 wee lives were extinguished. Young ones who had their whole lives ahead of them, going to school, innocent and deserving of protection and an inalienable sense of safety. Six adult lives extinguished who performed a noble task daily, teaching young ones and stewarding them through each calendar year. It is beyond human ability to comprehend, to absorb. Yet, we do it, somehow.
We do keep living through the trauma moments, as well as the fallout and recovery of it all. Through the doing of what needs to be done, we keep living through it.
There is also a level of Grace that occurs in the midst of this type of trauma. We shift into a level of auto-pilot reality where we are somewhat removed from our bodies and emotions. It's a protective mechanism, what shock does to our body and our mind, our reasoning. I can clearly recall the thoughts that run through my mind at such a moment, when I have been faced with a tragedy of such enormous proportions that have stretched my ability to respond.
*Please know that these thoughts are not meant to undermine, or compare to, the incredible grief that the families of the ones slain today in Connecticut are experiencing.*:
"This can't be happening." And I keep living through it.
"This isn't real." And I keep living through it.
"I don't know how I'm going to do this." And I keep living through it.
"I don't think I can do this." And I keep living through it.
"I can't believe I'm doing this." And I keep living through it.
"This doesn't seem real, now that I'm doing it." And I keep living through it.
"I can't believe I made it through that." And I keep living after I've done it.
"I don't know how I got through that." And I keep living after I've done it.
"I don't know how I'm going to keep living, now - the pain is still so overwhelming." And I keep living through it.
"Looking back, I have no idea how I did everything that needed doing during that time." And I keep living.
This is the unquestionable beauty of the human spirit, that we continue. Despite all manner of crippling tragedy, we continue. These human forms that house our Spirit slip into a mechanical state to allow us a buffer, and this is how we continue. In a numbed state, on automatic pilot, guided by the kindness and love of those around us, if we're fortunate and blessed. Lifted up by the equal kindness of complete strangers. A simple touch, or a smile, or a task done without our asking. A quiet moment where we are received and embraced and allowed to be in our raw grief without judgment.
In the coming days, more details will surface as to the motives of the young man who committed this unspeakable crime. Endless debates about gun control will reign ad infinitum. Discussion about mental health and the failings of our healthcare system will also jockey for position in the media. Sensationalism, unfortunately, will also race at the head of the pack, spewing out needless details that do dishonor to the name of the media.
For now, in my opinion, it is a time to look to what...to who...is most precious to each of us. If you are reading this and you are safe, secure, well fed, reasonably healthy, have a roof over your head and you are loved, take a moment to dwell in prayer, if you are so inclined. Pray for the lives cut short today; pray for their loved ones as they navigate the unthinkable process of accepting what has occurred. Pray for the young man who was so lost and confused, filled with unexplained rage to the degree that he chose this action. Just pray. Love the ones who mean the most to you.