It was a Saturday and I was expecting guests the next afternoon to celebrate my 6-week old baby. I was staring at a tray of cake crumbs stuck together with blobs of icing. They were… More
Note: The day after the shooting at UCC on Oct. 1, 2015, I wrote a letter to the world that quickly went viral across the globe. Two years later, this is my sequel to the original commentary. This post was featured in the New Review and at nrtoday.com.
Two years ago you were introduced to Roseburg. On October 1, 2015, our tranquil valley became known for the tragedy that the face of evil brought to our town. Our name became part of a list of cities whose schools became the seat of violence, and like all cities that bear the same mark, we didn’t want to be known for the horror of that day.
We hoped you’d see us for the way we came together and for how deeply we care. We want you to know that we are stronger than ever, and our resolve is rooted as deep as the Douglas fir that covers the hills throughout our county.
Like most of our community, I didn’t sleep that night. When the unthinkable happened, I couldn’t shut off my brain. Instead of sleeping I began to process grief. At 4 a.m. I shuffled into my husband’s office and penned a piece, pouring my troubled heart onto the page. My message began a discussion between friends and strangers. It became evident that there were far more people who love this peaceful community than those who feel trapped by this small-town life.
As details began to unfold, stories of those we lost became our stories. We sat in a collective waiting room for those whose wounds weren’t fatal but still, we recognized that bits of their lives were stolen. We prayed with the families of both survivors and victims. We baked cupcakes, welded yard signs, printed decals, poured coffee, lit candles and held vigils.
Local churches opened their doors for the countless volunteers who came simply to comfort. Home-grown businesses donated, collected and sacrificed while the world watched us grieve for a short while.
During that first week, I had several conversations with different media outlets. From a local Seattle station to a reporter from CNN, the question was the same: What makes Roseburg different? The question was merely for the interview because they had already noticed on their own.
As the list of tragedies he had covered was recited, one reporter told me this, “No one has ever been as kind and cordial to us as the people here.” He wondered if we were anxious to have the media lights dimmed. I nodded and assured him that the first order of business was to create a safe place to heal.
As often happens during times of grief, there are those who return to their lives as if nothing happened. Media loaded their trucks and moved on to the next story. Through memorials, prayer vigils and fundraisers, we leaned on one another and those who had reached in when it was too painful to reach out.
We woke up soon after to a “new normal” where the quiet left us feeling raw and disoriented. So much loss so fast, and to this day, there isn’t a part of this that makes sense.
We’re here two years later and still standing. We’ve come together in ways we hadn’t before and survived the pain as well as the controversy. When public figures and outside forces tried to change the conversation, we stayed strong. As the reports of the investigation were released just a few weeks ago, opinions of how the information should be handled varied. We still have our own viewpoints and passions to be sure, but we still have our community.
We have inspiration from the lives we lost and the wounded who fought to stay alive. From the first responders to the emergency room personnel to the long-term caregivers, their stories have become our stories. The pastors and neighbors who have sat with the tearful have offered comfort through unimaginable loss. Community leaders continue to meet in order to chart a course in hopes that we can continue to heal and grow.
We’re here, caught in a place where we’d like to forget that day and mindful that there is so much we need to remember, like being kind and gracious to each other. We can disagree and be angry yet find it in our hearts to be civil. We can actively give and peacefully listen to those still carrying the scars of that day.
As time moves forward, so will we. There will always be hearts that need mending and victories to celebrate. Our friends will continue to heal, and new classrooms will be built, and we’ll be right here. We’re ready to listen, bring meals for some, and for others, save lives and comfort souls. We’ll continue to welcome visitors and new neighbors. We’ll work hard to improve our community and teach our children what it means to stand strong and proclaim, “We’re still here!”
I’m not really what you would call a “morning person”. It’s not natural to me to be fully awake at the crack of dawn, springing out of bed as I summon delightful rays of sun into the windows of my home.
The more accurate picture is of me sitting in bed drinking coffee in the darkness. At that time I’m only summoning my eyelids to stay open long enough for the rest of me to wake up.
A year and a half ago I became drawn to watching the sun rise.
It was the morning after celebrating our 25th anniversary. My husband Russ and I couldn’t sleep. We had renewed our vows in front of our dearest people and couldn’t settle down.
We sat in in front of a window, bundled with blankets as we watched the sun peek over the mountains. I had just fallen in love with my husband again so I guess it was the perfect time to fall in love with the sunrise too.
Maybe I’m enamored because every one is different or that the singing birds are the most beautiful soundtrack of the day. Sometimes I realize that it’s a quiet, gentle start to something new as if I’m being reminded that every day is a great day to start fresh.
The sky often reminds me that it can wipe away whatever the day before has brought.
This morning as the blackened sky has given way to a blueish light I find myself quieted and grateful.
I’m grateful to live in such a beautiful valley where the sun illuminates the trees on most days and the rain makes everything fresh on the others.
Do you need a fresh start today? Find something you take for granted and give it another look. Maybe you’ve already seen a thousand sunrises but forgotten the beauty of a new day.
Whatever you’re going through, where ever you’ve been, can I encourage you this morning to slow down and take another look. You might find that there has been beauty there all along.
Christmas. Just the word evokes images of experiences, both unique to our hearts and common to those around us. Trimming trees, baking, shopping, and decorating fill the lists of activities we engage in to make Christmas “feel like Christmas.” The phrase “It just isn’t Christmas without __________ (fill in the blank)” sets us all up for disappointment on those days when real life finds its way into our celebrations.
Read the rest here at The Glorious Table.
As my husband and I take our morning walks, our feet shuffle through piles of leaves throughout the neighborhood. We find ourselves admiring homes and giving input on what we’d do differently. We speak of the “what ifs” and the “let’s just not ever do that.”
Because we’ve owned and remolded numerous homes, we have definite opinions on what we think works and what doesn’t.
We use it to share our own ideas with each other. It helps to know what the other one likes when it comes to rearranging our own home. It keeps us on the same page and even helps ponder ideas we haven’t thought of before. I love getting his perspective and he welcomes mine too.
Although we’re quite frank with each other, there is one thing we wouldn’t dream of doing – it wouldn’t even occur to us to tell someone how they should change their house.
We wouldn’t comment on the color or shape or style because we hold a differing opinion. You won’t find us knocking on the door unless the house is on fire or being threatened in some way. If there was true danger, we’d bang down the door to help them find safety. We certainly wouldn’t run next door to tell the neighbors first.
Here’s the issue as I see it: Social media seems to have turned it all upside down. Messages meant to knock down doors, freely sharing opinions regarding taste and style.
On the other hand, cryptic posts warning others of danger are posted for everyone to see. The messages are so obvious that if we were all sitting in the same room our gaze would fall on that one person we know it was meant to touch.
Having an opinion isn’t the issue. Like my mom always said, “Opinions are like noses, everyone has one.” The issue is when we mistake opinions for fact. When we really believe that our way to do something is the only way. We become guilty of methodolatry.
Methodolatry: The act of idolizing “how” we do things rather than focusing on the why. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own methods of achieving any number of things in our life from faith to politics to child rearing.
We narrow down our choices in areas that may be important, but how to achieve them isn’t. In other words, just because my life doesn’t look like yours on the outside doesn’t mean I don’t care about the same things you do.
You can’t understand what is going on inside someone’s life or house just by walking by. The ones that appear beautiful on the outside may be cluttered or full of darkness.
There may be turmoil in the lives of those who dwell there. The same can be said for the homes that seem outdated or in need of repair. There may be warmth or joy inside.
Unless we’re invited in, speculation is all we’re left with and judgments based on speculation can only be unfair, unkind and unwise.
Let’s do ourselves a favor, when choosing what we weigh in on, let’s consider the importance of relationship.
If we lead with kindness and friendship, we’ll have a much better chance of being invited in in the first place.