This is a condensed version of a post I wrote in response to the Sandy Hook shootings last year. I am reposting it today in memory of those beautiful children and the teachers and faculty who lost their lives. One year later, our thoughts and prayers are with the grieving families and devastated community.
There are no words. Not for something like this. But…when you are a writer, you need words.
One day, while rocking my son to sleep for his nap, some words did come to mind. And they began to fill the dark hole blasted open by the headlines of a gunman’s rage. So as any writer does, I let the words pour through me and out of me, each one illuminating the darkness a little more like newly fallen snow.
Why did it happen? Why does evil persist? Why can’t we name it, call it out, before it accelerates, knocks us over, takes away those we love? Why can’t we stop it? Why does God allow it? Why the suffering? Why children?!
But…we don’t always know why. Or how. Or when. Or who. We don’t always know their names until it’s too late.
Madmen don’t advertise their darkest plans. They just simmer slowly and silently to a boil, hating until their hatred makes victims of other people–unsuspecting people with names and lives and promising futures.
Names are words. Proper words. Names of the living. Names of the dead. Names that once brought joy and now carry with them, deep, heartrending sorrow. Names of children and adults. Names attached to faces and stories. Names of “ordinary” people turned heroic. Like Victoria Soto, the young teacher who hid her students and saved them, but lost her own life. Or Kaitlin Roig, who told her students she loved them all, so that gunfire wouldn’t be the last sound they would hear–“I love you” over a hail of bullets.
It’s the very best word and the one I leave you with today.
Love your kids. Love other people’s kids. Love one another.
I’m not talking about a warm, fuzzy, politically correct, washed-out, passive kind of love.
I mean the real, raw love – the kind that has to get tough sometimes. The kind that sacrifices, disciplines, gives everything. Because if we truly love someone, we pull them back from the brink. We keep them from feeling forgotten. We don’t let them hurt themselves or others without intervention. We don’t let a day go by without telling them how much we care.
Love is a choice that allows us to move freely and powerfully. Love makes us matter to others. It heals. It chases away regret. It offers hope.
Love defies words.
And despite the evil that still exists in the heart of man, LOVE will remain the greatest agent of change…and the best word…in the world.
“And now these remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”