Monday at Highlands…

It’s been a long, cold winter. I woke up this morning wondering if the negative wind chill would cancel school – again. I was secretly hoping for another day to breathe, and process the events surrounding the shooting outside our daughter’s school on Friday. (Click here for the full news story.)

On the other hand, I also know how important it is to get back to a routine, to create a sense of normalcy. Most important, we must not allow acts of violence to alter our daily lives. I have lived through enough darkness to know love and peace are always stronger.

And yet, I woke up this morning feeling uneasy, with a knot in my stomach, on the verge of tears. My body and emotions were acting one way, while logic attempted to process my feelings. On Friday, I was in survival mode, not showing how truly scared I was. Today, I am letting go, and feeling the raw emotions that I pushed back during the chaos. Ironically, my daughter is safer today at school than she was on Friday. The difference is, today I know how quickly that can change.

Thankfully, no innocent bystanders were killed, or physically injured in the ordeal. The shooter is in custody. Everything was handled well by the school and authorities. The teachers and staff were adequately trained and implemented their knowledge in a way they hoped would never happen. They kept things calm in the middle of a serious threat. We seemingly went about the rest of our weekend, untouched by violence. We survived.

We have learned from Columbine and Sandy Hook. In many ways, the events our school community experienced pale in comparison. However, it is because of mass shootings that we know what could have happened.  Our minds play out worst case scenarios, even though it never escalated that far.

We are filled with “what ifs.” If any second of our day was altered, would it have changed the outcome? For instance, what would have happened if I had gone to the school at 1:30, as I originally had planned, to update the outside sign board, directly across from the house? What if I had parked and walked to the school from a different direction during dismissal? Would I have been exposed to flying bullets during the shoot out? As it turns out, like dozens of others, I was in my car, right in front of the house while guns were aimed and fired. How we all avoided being a target is still difficult to comprehend. That was the closest I have ever been to witnessing a shooting. I hope I am never in that situation ever again.

Our culture seems to have complex, unspoken rules when it comes to how we process and react to these situations. There are imposed time lines on how long we have to get back to “normal.” As we check in with our thoughts and feelings, we are confused. How are we suppose to feel after everything turned out seemingly unscathed in the end?

When the threat of violence impacts our schools and communities, we come together in solidarity. For a brief moment, we appear to be united by our anguish. But, it does not take long for people to become divided on many issues, and pointing blame at others. Understandably, anger and blame are part of the process to healing.

If I have learned anything in my lifetime, it is to be gentle with one another. We do not have to know all the answers right now. We do not have to justify, or explain our feelings. Everyone will process this situation differently, on their own timeline. It is acceptable to keep asking questions and to keep having conversations. While we are in that phase, let’s all refrain from comparisons and judgement. Our thoughts and emotions will eventually balance out as we move forward. Be present with one another.

Most important, listen to our children and how they are responding. Children born within the last 15 years have never known a world without stories of school shootings. Practicing lock-downs is as common as tornado and fire drills. How do we empower our children with hope and peace in these uncertain times?

When we cannot makes sense of things with our words, our actions must guide us. We cannot always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react. We can make a difference when we choose to react with peace in our thoughts, words and actions.

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me bring love.

Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.

Where there is discord, let me bring union.

Where there is error, let me bring truth.

Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.

Where there is despair, let me bring hope.

Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.

Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.

peace

 

5 thoughts on “Monday at Highlands…

  1. biggestfanjoan

    “Make us an instrument of thy peace.” Thank you, Jenni. This was a harrowing experience, and as we watched it unfold, I kept thinking of all of you families up there. I’m so very sorry this happened to you all. You and your family are not traveling on this road alone, dear friend. ♡

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LOUANNE Hein

    Dear Jeni,
    You are right, it is how we react to events that is important. Although the chaos is in our lives , it is how we react. Thanks for your perspective.
    You have peace in your heart.
    LOUANNE

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Martha.wofford@gmail.com

    Thank you for sharing your insights. You were where you were exactly where you were supposed to be last Friday. I am so grateful that no one was physically injured. Emotionally, it make take some time to process. My prayers are with all of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Glenda kimsey

    Jeni you are so right…I hear your emotions but I also hear you balance and keep your life continuing on. I think in life we learn to accept that we are not in control…god is and it is our reaction to events…that we can control and to have faith…..we walk not by sight but by faith…Gail gave me a angel sculpture that said this…..it is the only way to live

    Liked by 1 person

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