Spring is a wonderfully welcome time of year, filled with anticipation of gradually lengthening, warming days and the promise of sun-filled time spent outdoors. Although warmer, the rains continue to fall and with the increased daylight green plants burgeon. Grass grows long and unkempt before we can mow; Dandelions, Tansy Ragwort, Scotch Broom, and other unwanted plants shoot up and bloom, spreading their kind throughout the neighborhood. Prolific Horse Tails and small Violets literally take over flower beds and lawns. For a gardener, it is an exhilarating and frustrating time. New plants and seeds to add, weeds to subtract - and the weeds refuse to be to be kept at bay! Out of sight beneath the ground, creeping growth of roots, pests, molds, disease...you never know what will emerge, or when, to wipe out any progress you think you have made.
Students hustle to complete their year at school, looking forward to graduation, summer jobs or travel. Full of youthful enthusiasm, energy, and spirit, they plot their courses and boldly shoot out into the world fully expecting to ever grow, learn, and achieve more. Most of them, that is - one day can end it all.
Tragedies like the shooting at Virginia Tech, and other places, bring us all up short. What is this craziness? We are so suddenly in shock - mourning, berating, questioning our world and lives. Couldn’t this have been seen coming and prevented? How can we keep it from happening again? What can we do to keep our children and ourselves safe? There is no place to hide - there are no easy answers.
It is easy to grieve for those killed, for their families, friends, and others who witnessed the carnage. They did not deserve to die. Neither do the victims of wars, dictators, suicide/car bombers, ethnic cleansing, malnutrition, or disease. None of it makes any sense to me.
As someone with a close awareness of mental illness, I also grieve for the young man who did the killing. What terrible darkness, pain, and despair he must have experienced to be driven to such actions. I am tempted, once again, to rage and blame - but I find no answers in that either. My heart goes out to his parents and sister, who must now bear this burden bequeathed to them for the rest of their lives. None of this is fair.
And so we are left hurting and hunting - for reasons, resolutions, maybe even revenge. But, wounded though we are, perhaps we are not meant to have all the answers. Perhaps, difficult as it is, we only need to persevere and have love - as well as faith and trust in the One who does know all.
“All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord stands forever.”
1 Peter 1:24
(This was written in response to the tragedy on April 16, 2007, when 32 young people were gunned down and killed, along with 15 others who were wounded, before the gunman took his own life. It was the worst massacre of this type in U.S. history.)