I'm thinking about that song by Five Iron Frenzy, "A New Hope." I wasn't at Columbine when the shooting happened, nor did I attend the school. However, the community of neighborhoods branching away from the school district were intertwined enough that everyone knew someone who had been at the school that day; someone who was trapped in the room with the gunmen, or someone who lost a friend. A teacher who knew a teacher, who couldn't recover. The impact of widespread fear and sadness over the crime (what other word do we have for these happenings?) that took place at Columbine was distinctive to me as a child. That's what I was, when it happened, a child. There was panic, and a sheer level of brokenness on the face of every adult I looked up at as we watched the news, spoke in the streets, attempted to regain a sense of security through community. It was the first time I felt a sense of chaos-- unpredictability and an acute realization that nothing is sacred, and nothing is safe.
Don't worry, I'm not about to reinforce tragedy by making it the topic. It is merely the foundation of a train of . . .
The feeling isn't just mine, and I'm not the only person who has ever felt the shudder of confusion form into grief or outrage, depression, and then resilience. It reoccurs each time a sandcastle is wrecked with the tide, a roof leaks in a rainstorm, a car breaks down, a friend is lost, a negative word is spoken. We receive, perceive, internalize, deconstruct, and respond. There's a pattern; stages of grief, aren't enough though. They don't capture the full potential of our composition as we are rendered into the naturalistic existence and occurrence of life.
There's something else, something after, that we carry with us when we pass through an experience that riles and stirs our unprotected angles. In the absence of something, we feel attacked, we know we are attacked, we recognize a word I've heard as "weakness." I think this has been poorly defined to us. A mistake has been made in our use of language, or even our language itself. In the chaos we are not given to define where a strength has formed, not been told to look at what people can't see we took with us. The intangible result of tangible actions exists, though. If we are here we stand after, and we can choose to sharpen our sight with the hallmark of beauty left by what we loved.
Fear might have been someone's intent, but I am not content to walk away carrying that. I see everywhere muddled messages and a distracted body. A lens out of focus. But I want to be in focus, in this moment. I want to see those multi-faceted shades of meaning rendered to anyone's success story, to the perpetuity of something more than the darkness of myriad ill-famed tragedies. Just to observe one person's intangible boon in action, is a victory-- but why stop there? Why not compile the wisdom of what is overcome, form the comfort we desire, to treasure what is sacred and safe to us in this moment?
And in this thought, my "weakness" becomes hope.