After a violent event, people instinctively gather to exchange comfort and support. Our town experienced murders and a suicide in a few brief and terrifying moments at the town shopping mall last Saturday. Police and news helicopters could be heard at our house. Three people under 25 years of age died quickly, one the suicidal killer, 19 years old.
A young woman and young man, colleagues working in a skateboarders' store, died. A young survivor fell the floor, ending up beside the male victim and hearing his final words. The survivor would not allow his face to be shown. His tone of voice was, as expected, subdued.
The community mourns, and flowers mark the inner fountain of the mall, along with written notes and cards of grief or condolence. Around tables in homes and restaurants, politics (gun and mental health policies) and religion (life's meaning and after death) mixed without rancor
Two topics quickly rose to the surface by that evening only three days ago. Some thoughts immediately went to gun control laws (the shooter used a rifle) and some thoughts immediately went to mental health. I am sure those conversations will continue around tables in our county of Howard and beyond.
Now is the time to pause and mourn these deaths and especially to pray for the families affected by this violence. We can, otherwise, jump away from the terror inflicted before we honor those robbed of life. We must allow our spiritual response before we jump into our political skins.
The Columbia (MD) Mall is large and sprawling. The deadly acts affected thousands of feet of its interior where singles, friends, couples, and parents with children were shopping or hanging out. That also should give us pause.
Before joining any conversation about politics or mental health, I intend to reflect on innocent victims whose lives were robbed of light last Saturday. I find I cannot write with words adequate to express the emotions still welling up in many of us who did not know these young people.
There must be room made around the table to mourn, to honor the victims, and to pray for the families. There will be a time to take up other related discussions and actions. Now, however, is the time to remember and to reflect on those taken from this community's life and those nearby, terrified and locked in place.
Dear Lord, we desire your mercy upon this city and your favor upon first responders and their teams that risk their own lives for all of us. Amen.
Copyright (c)2014 Opinari* Writers
*Think, Reason, Believe