Have you heard about what happened this week in Boulder, CO? Yep, that's my community. Although I don't live right in the neighborhood anymore, I've been to that King Soopers hundreds of times, often as an outing with kids with disabilities, and I can picture the entire store very clearly in my mind's eye. It hits differently when it is in your community.
My district is on spring break this week, and I'm very thankful. Apart from the need for every bit of relaxation we can get this year, it also means that our schools (some mere blocks away from the store) were not in session while this was happening. And we, as adults, have a little bit of time to breathe and process and take care of our own emotions before we welcome students back to their normal routines. Not to say it'll all be tied up in a bow by Monday, but it won't be quite as raw.
As I've been working through my own thoughts and feelings, I'm struck by the fact that we are approaching Easter Sunday, the biggest juxtaposition of light and darkness in history. Darkness when Jesus was betrayed by a friend and killed. Light when He rose again and conquered death. Whether you share my beliefs or not, I think this same mix of light and darkness can be seen through recent events in our community. The darkness is obvious: a person entering a grocery store and killing ten people. I think about the circles of those ten people, their families and friends and neighbors, and know that their lives are forever altered. I know several teachers in my district who taught one of the victims, and they are struggling right now. I also think about the family and friends and neighbors and teachers of the suspect...their lives are altered too, as they have to reconcile what happened with what they (thought they) knew about him. I think about everyone who was in that store or parking lot or lived across the streets and saw it happen (I know people in this situation as well). That trauma doesn't go away easily. And I think about the wider community, those who regularly frequent this King Soopers and are likely plagued with the thought, "It could have been me." The impact is great.
But I have to believe that the light is even greater. Stories of people helping others in the moment, both those who died and those who lived. A community coming together to honor the victims and support each other and heal. After a year of loneliness and isolation for many, perhaps this was a nudge to reach back out to others. A reminder that we are never alone.
I don't know why this happened, and the pain and trauma will continue. But I want to hold that in balance with the hope that will outlast everything. Light and darkness can coexist, but light will win in the end. I hope that we all can do our part to spread a little more of that light to the rest of the world, whether that means texting a friend you haven't talked to in awhile, holding a door for someone, or unexpectedly doing something nice (my mind is on shoveling from our recent storms) for someone else. And I hope that our kids will also feel empowered to spread that light, because we can all do something for others, no matter how old they are.
Be the light!
(And please pray for my community)