I am crushed.
Those are about the only words I could muster in the wake of the unthinkable tragedy that struck Newtown. In my adulthood I have been well acquainted with grief. I have observed it, felt it scratching and digging at the very fibers that string my life together. Still it is a language I could never capture. I suppose I’m not the only one. There are no words that can quite hold such weight of pain, loss, despair.
The news was both shocking yet all too familiar in our nation’s recent history. A man walked into an elementary school and gunned down 26 people, most of whom were children ages 6 and 7. Just like that. Kids who woke up that morning thinking about their next game of handball at recess, or daydreaming about the end of the day so their parents could take them to see all the nicely decorated houses and trees in the neighboring town–gone. Kids whose lives had just begun, their futures now violently robbed. Hughes spoke of dreams deferred; these bullets demolished them.
That same night I had been asked by my pastor to do a reading of my children’s book to the kids at our church staff Christmas party. Could I tell you how it felt to look into those precious souls and consider that it could have been any one of them? In one demonic fit of madness it could have been Grant or Wes or Jaron or Natty. Or all of them. I sat there, going through my words, turning page by page, reading from a book that I had written to build education and inspire life. I had always considered the war to be fought in the battlegrounds of the heart and mind; never did I think we’d have to protect our classrooms from madmen and their bullets. I wonder if I’m in the wrong business. If I’m supposed to explode guns and exorcise men who are battling some serious demons.
Newtown, I observe you, I remember you, but I have no words for your grief. I know your pain is immeasurable beyond that. I can only pray for brighter days, a greater hope, a comfort that transcends understanding. Perhaps my sentiments are best echoed by our president when he says: “Whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide … Newtown, you are not alone.”