New York felt just like this today. And I think hearts across the country have felt chilled and gray, too. Today I went to my favorite vegetable market and the sweet owners were talking in Korean. Every few words, I heard them say “shooting” in English. I think it’s safe to say that everyone in every language is talking about it. Everyone is feeling it.
As I’ve thought about this tragedy, my thoughts keep returning to one of the most inspiring stories of human love and compassion I have ever heard in my whole life. In 2006, a milk man went into an Amish school and shot 10 Amish children. 5 of them died. But instead of hate, the Amish were filled with love, forgiveness, compassion, and peace not only amongst themselves, but for the killer and his family. They forgave him. They raised money for his widow. They attended his funeral. They held no hate or anger in their hearts.
And so, the Amish… I thought of them all the time. Their tragedy and example put my trial in perspective. And it let me see the human potential to forgive. I took a bubble bath once, trying to find some peace, and listened to this amazing sermon about that Amish community. I just wept and wept and wept. I knew that if another human being could forgive as cleanly and as fully as they did, then I could, too. I could forgive deeper than I had. I could hold no malice. I could have compassion even though I felt wronged. I didn’t have to wait 5 or 10 years to be free of that crippling anger. I could move on in peace, out of honor for those around me and the future husband and children that I had hoped to have someday.Today when we listened to some of the news about Connecticut, we heard the story of the Parker Family, who lost a daughter during the shooting and came forward with a tribute. The father expressed no animosity and said he was not mad and offered sympathy for the family of the shooter.
“We want everybody to know that our hearts and our
prayers go out to them. This includes the family of the shooter. I can’t
imagine how hard this experience must be for you and I want you to know
that our family and our love and our support goes out to you as well.” “Let it be something that inspires us to be better, to be more
compassionate and humble people. Let us please keep the sentiments of
love that we feel for our families, and the compassion that we feel for
others– even complete strangers– and keep them with us at all times, not
just in times of sorrow and tragedy. And may we do this so that we can
better all of our communities, and all of our cities and all our
states, so we can make everyone, everywhere in this country feel safe.” He said, “I don’t know how to
get through it. The best thing I can do is to help other people.”
Robbie Parker’s words remind me of the Amish. They remind me of the human potential. They remind me that we can do hard things in our lives. I thank God for people like them…they give us hope in humanity, they let us know what we all might be capable of, too.
Do you think it’s possible to forgive someone who did something so horrible? Is it inconceivable to you or does it seem to early to even consider?
(image via Adoreann)