Rising above school shootings

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

It was a beautiful day in late April, yet the drive from our small town in northern Colorado to a suburb of Denver, which I made quite often, was anything but ordinary that day.

I needed to know God's presence in tangible ways that afternoon as I drove to a church near Columbine High School just after the shootings there. My heart was heavy. I knew I couldn't let it stay that way. I had work to do and this work would require the certainty of God's presence and power.

Although the radio in my Jeep was silent, the voices of newscasters filled my mental airwaves. Words like gunmen, Columbine (which before that afternoon had only been the name of a delicate mountain flower my daughter and I admired each summer in high meadows), fallen, and victims punctuated that silence like gunshots. I had to find a secure peace before I arrived at the Catholic church in Littleton where I would join religious leaders, spiritual counselors, and social workers gathering to minister to the broken hearts and shattered families.

Just then something in the sky caught my eye. It was a hawk riding an invisible updraft over the prairie. I pulled over and got out of the car. Tractor trailers and other cars whizzed past. But as I watched that hawk soaring, I found my peace.

Right there on the side of the road, I, too, could feel the same soft but powerful current of air moving through my hair. I watched the way that hawk used what was unseen to lift him higher and higher without beating his wings. I could see the way that same breeze was moving millions of individual blades of tall grass and traveling straight up into the foothills, giving movement to the pines and aspens. I was ready.

I got back in my trusty Jeep and moved toward not a suburb full of broken hearts and shattered peace, but a meadow full of hearts ready to be moved by the breath of God's love toward a greater peace, a more certain sense of life, a better view of themselves. I traveled with the expectancy I find in Mary Baker Eddy's words, "Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight" ("Poems," p. 4).

I knew that God would show us all, in the context of one another's need, our better selves. We would see one another not as an endless sea of hurting humanity, but as individual blades of grass moving and being moved by God's love to bend and touch one another's hearts. We would help one another soar on the unseen thermals of God's love ... as that very love expressed to and with and for one another.

By the time I reached the Light of God Catholic Church near Columbine High School, I was ready and eager. The sadness, grief, and horror still whizzed around and past me like those cars and tractor trailers on the highway. But from where I soared with the updraft, I could not be moved or swayed by their force. I was riding on the thermals of God's love.

Those were long, full days. But I was watching love in action, love moving unseen through those around me to cause us all to touch someone with a word of kindness, to listen with an open heart. I watched as the sky I was soaring in filled with others who had spread their wings and caught the thermal and could better see God's unseen hand in each moment.

Whenever the world tries to drown out peace with its cacophony of horror, get off the highway and catch a thermal. The view is amazing.

They that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength; they
shall mount up
with wings as eagles.
Isaiah 40:31

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