Some days the weight of responsibility rests heavily on my heart. Last Friday was one of those days as the Seed’s director. As news of the Sandy Hook shooting filtered into our lives, the layers of implication piled up. Hearing that twenty young children were dead, along with six adults who gave their lives to protect students, was unfathomable. It was a situation that on one hand demanded an immediate response, yet there are still so many unanswered issues and questions that will require time for reflection.
I have thought of the beautiful children whose lives were cut short by such a violent act. I’ve thought of their parents who will hold this grief and sorrow in their hearts for the remainder of their lives, and the siblings who will miss growing up with a brother or sister. I have thought of the brave teachers who gave their lives shielding their students from bullets with their own bodies. The story of the teacher who died holding her special needs student in her arms was particularly heart-wrenching. I’ve also considered the level of anguish and suffering the young man who was the shooter must have been living with to reach the point of choosing to do what he did.
I have to say, in truth, that the person I have thought of most from the whole incident is the principal. It’s made me wonder if, put in the same situation, I’d have the same kind of courage that she did to go after someone with a gun, fully knowing my life was on the line. Hopefully, I’ll never be faced with what she had to do last Friday. Still, I daily wrestle with the idea of how I would respond, given the immense sense of responsibility I feel for every single child, parent, and staff member at the Seed. Every choice, every action, every word has significance and I take this seriously. This responsibility is my life work.
Wendell Berry once wrote: “I don’t believe that grief passes away. It has its time and place forever. More time is added to it; it becomes a story within a story. But grief and griever alike endure.” In time the intensity of this horrific event will subside and it will become a story within each of our life stories. We will process and absorb it, each in our own way. One thought that sustains me is that the Seed is and will continue to be a safe, protected place. Certainly, there are no guarantees in life, but I will continue to do and be everything I can to ensure that it remains a place that can be counted on for safety and security on all levels of being.