Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Aftermath


There was a school shooting in our community last Friday.

A 13 year old male student asked to be excused from his science class. He returned with 2 guns and opened fire. A female student was injured. The science teacher (and football coach) tackled the shooter, knocked the guns away, getting shot in the process. Thankfully, no one was killed. 2 people were physically injured.

Here is what I haven't heard about in the media when it comes to school shootings - because they haven't been in my community. Local media reports very differently than national media. Listening to the people who were impacted - those stories don't make the news. And really shouldn't, I suppose.

When these shootings happen, we jump to "don't give the shooter any attention, don't say his name" type of comments. I often agree. Until it happened here. I want to know who he is. I want to know who is parents are, if he has siblings. I want to know if they knew their child had problems that were pointing to the ability to take this kind of action. Because I look through my lens of parenting and I know that if my child were to shoot anyone, I would have a lot of questions. My kids have zero access to guns. I don't see any signs in my kids of problems that could lead them to violence. Did this child's parents know what was happening in his head and in his heart? I assume the kid brought the guns from home - but what if he didn't? Where did he get them? How did he learn to use them?

The kids from the middle school were bused to the high school. That part was reported. Parents had to wait a long time to pick up their kids because of the process of reuniting the right kid to the right adult.

Not reported in most media was that some little jerkwad kid at the high school thought it would be funny to text in a bomb threat at the high school. Again - I want to know who that kid is and if the school and his parents knew that he had the potential for this kind of trouble. Because that stupid threat created an even more terrifying situation as the high school and all the kids who had been bused over went into "code red" lockdown. Which means barricading classroom doors, hiding in closets and corners, sending terrified texts to your family and friends.

The kids who had just been bused to the high school because of a shooting inside their school are then in lockdown in a gym in a high school with most of their parents waiting outside to get to them.

The kids who go to that high school, who are on alert because they know why those middle schoolers are in their gym, are now terrified of what they imagine is about to happen in their school.

The middle school kids who were closest to the classroom where the shooting occurred - kids who witnessed their friend and classmate being shot, who witnessed their teacher fulfilling his promise to always protect them, kids and teachers who heard the gunshots and screams in the classroom next door, across the hall, nearby - ran out of the building and hid (as they are taught to do). I have a friend who is a bus driver in that district and she was picking kids up in her bus from the field next to the school. Kids who were scared and not sure what was going to happen next after running away to hide from a gunman - who then had to trust that she would be able to keep them safe, get them to safety.

Those kids from the middle school came to the high school gym and as the hours stretched on, those kids got hungry. The cafeteria stepped up and brought as much food as it could, considering they didn't expect to feed 2 schools that day.

Here is what will stay with me the next time there is a school shooting that makes the news - all of the ripples. While the Noblesville shooting won't stay in the media for long because no one died, it will stay as an impactful event on the community.

The next time there is a shooting, I will think about the teachers and administrators who stay in their classrooms and schools within that district, even though they have their own kids in the school where a shooting has happened.

The next time there is a shooting, I will think about the bus drivers who take traumatized kids to a safe place.

The next time there is a shooting, I will think about all of the ways these kids and teachers are connected to their communities outside of the school. The other schools in the district, through churches, through sports, through gyms and community centers, through neighborhoods, through their local eateries, and so on. A school shooting doesn't just impact that school. It impacts the school district, the neighborhoods, the surrounding school districts and more. Just by virtue of being a resident of Indiana, people in other states heard about a shooting in Indiana and reached out to me to see if it had happened where my kids are located.

The next time there is a shooting, I will think about the kids in nearby schools who don't know what is happening, who aren't being given any information, but are clearly understanding that something has happened, the teacher is acting different, we are on "code yellow" and no one will tell me anything.

The next time there is a shooting, I will think about the parents who get the phone call to come to the police station rather than the hospital or school or pick up location.

The next time there is a shooting, I will think about all the families at bedtime and all the kids who won't want to go to sleep. It's easy, from a distance, to assume that these kids are fine because they weren't hurt or they weren't in that building. But Friday changed so many children in so many ways. Children were introduced to a real level of fear that they hadn't truly ever understood before. And shouldn't have to understand. Adults get the concept of "upset person with gun has long term, serious, terrible consequences." Children don't. Which might be part of why they turn to a gun... I don't know.

I don't have answers. I do have questions. Questions that don't seem to have answers right now. Questions that maybe I don't even have words for right now.

My focus is just on how we get hurting people through a traumatic event. How do we move forward and convince our kids that the school is still a safe place? How do we calm parents as they send their kids to what should be a safe place? How does a community heal and how does each individual take part in that healing?




Friday, March 9, 2018

Kind & Assertive


My daughter turns 13 in one week.

In her childhood, we focused a lot on kindness. Being kind to others. Love. Compassion.

But we didn't focus on another important part - being assertive.

Assertiveness allows you to stand up for yourself and for others.

Isn't it interesting how kindness and assertiveness can leave you feeling so vulnerable?

7th grade is a time where relationships are constantly shifting. One week, 2 girls hate each other. The next week, they are best friends.

The stories that my daughter tells me about the things people say to each other break me.

A girl telling a boy, in front of a group of people, that he looks sad. His reply - "It's because you broke up with me." She goes on to correct him, says she didn't... but she's dumping him now. Then she laughs and walks away.

That's just.... cruel.

Then other kids laugh at him.

Teagan sees his crushed heart. She sees his face fall.

She has compassion.

But she lacks assertiveness. She can't put herself next to him. She can't tell anyone to leave him alone. She can't put herself in the line of fire.

I believe that she will find her assertive voice. She will find her way of standing up for herself and others. I also believe that the times she falls silent now, the observations she is making, the times that she hears herself saying things she doesn't mean will all lead to her finding her voice.

It's all a very careful dance. She is still sharing so much with me. But she is also navigating the dance floor all on her own each day.




Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ash Wednesday

I've never felt an urge to do something for the period of Lent. I have always seen friends giving up Starbucks or Facebook. I have family members who are very serious in their Catholic tradition who take their Lenten practice truly to heart with sacrifice and service.

But I've never felt much need to sacrifice or serve more than I already do.

This year, I've felt a tug to find something to commit to for Lent. Knowing that the intent of this season is to draw closer to God in preparation for Easter, I knew I wanted my choice to be spiritually based.

I didn't have a plan when I woke up this morning, though. Sacrificing sugar or coffee or chocolate didn't really seem like the right idea. So I opened up my email and decided that I would read one of the many daily devotionals that I receive - and maybe I would feel so moved as to actually read one of them each day.

And I read one. And it was nice enough. But it didn't move me.

Later in the day, I jumped on Twitter. There is a Jesuit priest I follow - Father James Martin. Now, I'm not Catholic. But I know a lot about Catholicism since my dad and my brother are Catholic. I've attended Mass many times. I won't pretend to know everything about the faith but I can say that there is a lot of beauty in the prayers and traditions. Father Martin tweeted about a new podcast he is doing for Lent - The Examen.





I was intrigued. Maybe this was what I needed. And I will admit - I had no clue what it was going to be about or what "examen" meant. Turns out, it is a daily meditation style of prayer to review your day from start to finish and remember or recognize where you experienced God in your day.

I took time and started the podcast. I was expecting a talk. To just listen. But it was an actual time of prayer and meditation. I started to write things down as I reflected on the previous day. And I was aware of how much I just cast aside a day once it is done. But when I stopped to examine it, there was beauty and love in so many places.

When it was done, I began quickly reading about St. Igantius Loyola and this daily practice. There are cards you can carry that have the steps laid out for your daily prayer and meditation time. Lots of interesting things to read about this time reviewing your day, looking for God, and then spending time talking to God about a specific happening or person you encountered - and time to listen. Time to acknowledge where you messed up, where you sinned.

It's a beautiful practice. I am moved.

A couple of things I wrote down from articles I read -

"If it is part of our human experience, God is in it."

"God is present in every event of our daily lives - not only in thoughts and words, but in smells and sounds and sights and feelings."

There are many different ways to do The Examen and I look forward to this Lenten journey and going deeper in my faith through this practice.





Monday, January 29, 2018

The Sacred in Normalcy


We are the "lucky" ones. We are "blessed."

I'm not a huge fan of those phrases.

Our year started out in a very low and scary place.

Here is the excellent news - our son is completely fine. The tumor in his leg is not cancer. It's an enchrondroma. We will have regular x-rays to monitor it but it's the type of thing that usually shows up in mid-life and is just a thing. Not something you do anything about. Not something that should cause any issues.

We went from the most terrifying place - possible leukemia - to the most normal place - not even needing surgery.

It's been a couple of weeks since our final doctor visit to confirm the findings of the specialist in Florida. And the decision that we don't need surgery at this time.

Life quickly got back to normal. For a month, we lived in a little bubble. We drew within ourselves. Our family drew in tight and close. Now we can breathe again. We can expand again.

Now, I seek the Sacred in the everyday. Which feels more challenging. When life is being lived in extremes, it's easier to sense and need God or some higher power.

Most recently, it was witnessing some 5th and 6th grade girls supporting each other. I lead a discussion group for 4th-6th grade at my church. We meet 2 times per month. This particular group has been together for a couple of years. And they have shared things. About friends and family. They share joys. And they open up and share things they are passionate about.

Recently, our discussion was on popularity and power and fear. We usually start with one topic and swirls in many different directions until we bring it back to where we started.

One girl shared something personal about her family. Another shared something about a group of her friends that broke up in ugly ways.

The beauty in it was how the girls supported each other.

This group of kids - boys and girls - talk excitedly and over each other sometimes. They get very focused on their own things to share sometimes. But when it comes to sharing something hard, they love each other.

When each of those girls shared, the girls nearby would reach over to hold a hand or an arm or a shoulder. It wasn't discussed or anything. It just happened. Naturally. Compassion in action.

I felt the Sacred moving between them. Connecting them. Holding them. And giving them each other. I simply sat and witnessed what was happening.

From Philippians:
If you find any comfort from being in the Anointed, if His love brings you some encouragement, if you experience true companionship with the Spirit, if His tenderness and mercy fill your heart; then, brothers and sisters, here is one thing that would complete my joy—come together as one in mind and spirit and purpose, sharing in the same love. Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first.



Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Sacred In Sacrifice


"Mom... If things with my brother are bad... And it is going to cost a lot of money... I want to give things up for him. Things like... Well, tae kwon do. I know it costs a lot for me to do tae kwon do. So I would give that up."

She loves tae kwon do.

She loves her brother more.

It isn't a sacrifice she needs to make.

But how can you not see the Sacred when a child offers to sacrifice their passion?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Sacred in a Moment


The phone rang. The number we had been waiting on...

The doctor's voice.
Not a nurse.

Calling with results.
Results that were simply more questions.

I inhaled.

In that moment, the Holy Spirit was within me, around me, between us.

Then I exhaled. Fear, worry, the unknown returned.


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Sacred in Laughter


Jan 2

I found the Sacred in laughter today.

The kind of laughter where you forget everything else in the world for a second. For a moment. Because all that matters is the ridiculous thing that made you crack up.

It's hard to escape life right now. But good friends can help with that.

I found the Sacred in laughter.