Making sense and healing after the tragic events at Aurora Colorado is something that like most Americans, I find myself struggling to understand. My heart is heavy with sadness for all of those who lost their lives, those who were injured and all of the families and friends touched by this senseless act of violence. I can only hope that my prayers will add comfort and healing to their grieving hearts.
Today I was listening to a Rabbi and Minister on CNN share how they comfort people to help them to find God in this horrific event and others like it – such as the Holocaust and what happened at Columbine. Along with reference to some scripture in the bible, what both of them had to say was that helpfulness is not so much in telling people where God was on that day but in listening to them, allowing them to ask their questions and find their own answers. I shared their personal perceptions that during the Aurora Colorado massacre, God was in the souls that gave their lives to protect others and in the responders who acted so swiftly to take control, get people out of harms way and facilitate emergency help for the injured. God was also in the medical professionals who assembled efficiently and effectively, working tirelessly to stabilize the wounded and save more lives. Maybe God’s presence too is in the way that we gain insights through a tragedy of this kind. Perhaps we are reminded to live in the moment each day and never take for-granted the people in our lives. We learn through tragedy and loss that it is the relationships with family and friends that can’t be replaced and that truly matter most. And maybe God helps us to heal through a common bond as a nation sharing a profound and common loss.
When Columbine happened in 1999, I was working as a nurse in the Washington DC area. I was no stranger to caring for the sick and comforting their families during times of crisis. But the aftermath of pain and suffering from Columbine took its toll on me as I struggled to make sense of how this could happen. For me, healing came in part by putting pen to paper in a poem that I wrote shortly after an event that rocked my senses and my world. I didn’t have a blog back them, but sharing that poem now seems like the right thing to do.
Three Girls at Columbine
Perhaps your daughter, niece, a friend; perhaps unknown to you;
Three ordinary girls at school – extraordinary too.
Preoccupied with teenage thoughts and things that young girls do,
They shared their joys, ambitions, dreams that someday might come true.
What was to happen on that day, unthinkable to dare;
A nightmare and a senseless act that led to such despair.
What happened then, just like a blur – a horror etched with screams,
And moments later were to freeze for all those there it seemed.
When all of it was finally done, five wounded lined the halls.
Three girls lay still, their flesh stark white with bloodstains on the walls.
The perpetrator we were told, a boy of fourteen years,
Could not explain what he had done, his sorrow said with tears.
This tragedy of modern times, so rampant in our day,
Our youth resort to violent acts; they’ve learned amoral ways.
Three girls now dead, the boy’s life gone, how many will it take?
Before we learn what we did wrong, the changes we must make.
Why kids are killing other kids, when will this nightmare end?
Their view of life is without worth, this message that they send.
So sad it is to keep kids safe when they are in their schools,
Devises used to find their guns and guards become the tools.
One day before my days are gone, I pray that I will see
The day when fear of violent acts no longer governs me.
A day when I am free to roam and be without a care,
When children can be safe from harm and never taught to fear.
Our children make tomorrow’s world, and what it is to be
Will all depend on reaching out; it’s up to you and me.
A caring touch, a loving word; if each of us begin;
A peaceful world will come about and all of us will win.
Healing After this Tragedy in Aurora
Just like after 911 among other acts of terrorism and crimes against humanity, you may find yourself feeling powerless and in a state of hopeless despair. We are challenged to make sense of this tragic occurrence in Aurora and others like it. Besides talking about your feelings, you may find that putting your pen to paper (or using the computer to write), will help you to find your own answers and to heal. If you have a poem you would like to share on this blog (or a comment about this post), you are welcome to do so.