So I sent six of my children off to school this morning on faith… Yesterday, unfortunately like in so many places on different days in our world, our high school and many surrounding schools in town were in lockdown because of threats of violence at our very large high school. My oldest son spent the morning and afternoon sheltered with lights off under a table in his English classroom far from the door and I spent the day on social media and news outlets praying and looking for updates.
The person who made the threats is still at large. The school and grounds were scoured by police and deemed safe, but that man is still out there…
Yet today I still sent my sons back to school.
This week for us Christians is Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday at the end. Tonight we celebrate Jesus’ last Passover meal with his friends, the meal where he lets Judas, one of those “friends” know that he knows what he has done, and to “go and do it quickly”.
What Judas has done is sell his friend, his God, for 30 pieces of silver. Jesus is betrayed by one of those closest to him. Whenever there is violence in this world, we too are betrayed by our “human family”. Whenever we disregard people in need, choose to look the other way when someone is being bullied, or think jealous thoughts, gossip, etc. we too are betraying our “neighbors”.
It’s unsettling knowing the man who made the threats is out there, knowing there are so many Judas’ in our midst willing to betray us for 30 pieces of silver, and that sometimes I am one of them. Sometimes I betray you with my words for a laugh, or in my thoughts to make myself feel better, or in my actions when tired and cranky and I am unkind to you.
I prayed last night for the students, the parents, the teachers, and administrators, and the police who were involved yesterday. I also prayed for the man who made the threats. I prayed for goodness to enter his life and that he might turn to peace instead of violence. And still as I slept I dreamed of him, finding out who he was, going to law enforcement to let them know, I so humanly want that feeling of closure and its comforting sense of safety.
It was such a joy when all the kids made it back home yesterday and we were all under one roof again. I processed things a bit with my oldest son who really seemed none the worse for wear for the day, though I think it really hadn’t sunk for him. I tried to explain what happened, at least what we knew, and he told us his version.
When I felt he comprehended the day a little more, I ended with as much earnestness as I could saying: “That’s why we have to try to be the very best people we can be in this world, to bring as much good into the world as we can.”. He then rolled his eyes at me, he’s heard it before from me, and I suppose it ends up sounding trite, but I believe it with all my heart…
Our goodness spreads.
I will send my kids to school, teach them to love deeply in service to others, let them know that when they fail sometimes and they ask to be forgiven they will be forgiven, and that they can start again and again and become the people God made them to be.
I will teach them to see the dark in themselves and the dark in others as an action, an action against good, and to recognize it. To know that the often difficult choice and action of love is what will overtake the darkness in our world and our own souls.
Jesus, that man/God, didn’t allow himself to be crucified for nothing. He did it for all of us. He did it for yesterday, for a man with evil intentions, and for us with our good hearts, tired hearts, broken hearts, and everything in between.
With love from Vermont,
Alas, this sleepy town in Vermont, has been through this threat before 10 years ago, except then darkness acted and lives were taken. I wrote a little about it a few years ago when we had roof issues.)