Today we spent some time remembering the people who died at Virginia Tech. I really debated whether place this in the service or not. It really didn't appear to make an impact on our small community. Other than the day of the shootings when a few people in a store asked me if I had heard anything about them, I really hadn't heard anything about them. So, if the people aren't struggling with it, why bring it up.
But then I realized, 33 people are dead. And we aren't talking about it, trying to deal with the shock and senselessness of it. There may be something even more wrong here. Are we becoming more and more acustomed to violence as a fact of life. Are we reaching the point, where if it doesn't touch us personally, we take note and move on with our daily lives.
So that decided me. We remembered and prayed about those victims and their families and about the gunman and his family. As we did so we remembered victims of violence worldwide. Yes, we read the list of the people who were killed in Virginia, but in our hearts and our minds, we also remembered other victims (at least I hope we did). I left the candle we lit (a candle of peace from a previous service) burning until after everyone had left the church.
Of the 33 who died, the one that really struck me was the holocaust survivor. He survived one of the human caused horrors of history only to be killed violently in a place that should have been safe. And yet, there is the fact that he died saving his students. So if he hadn't survived the holocaust, how many more would be dead today. It is here that I broke down when reading the list of names. There is so much in this one name that reflects the questions of life and purpose and God's presence. I'm still pondering it.
I am at a loss for words over this senseless violence. I worried about how we are starting to get numb when we hear about such violence. I have even caught myself just skimming over reports of death from Afghanistan rather than taking the time to reflect and pray.
So I guess part of prayers are for those of us who are fortunate enough not to be touched by these tragedies, that we don't grow distant and accepting of the violence and turmoil in the world. That we may never know the experience of senseless loss but that our hearts, thoughts, prayers, and actions may always be with those who are and that we never cease to feel compassion and are never too distant that we remain untouched.