If you’d like to view a montage w/ audio, click here:
One Year Mark – Youtube
Thousand Oaks has been home for my family and I for more than thirty years. A year ago our individual and collective lives were severely shaken, and for some of us, the unimaginable had occurred. Triggers have come sporadically all year long for everyone I know, including myself. But they are coming more frequently and more intensely as the year mark approaches. 11/07/’18 is our 9/11. There is a strange glob in my psyche containing bits that ordinarily would have no connection to each other at all. But they are forever connected for me.
~ Borderline Mass Shooting (our dear friends son was among those killed)
~ Fire #1 (2 miles West of our home – began about 14 hrs after the shooting)
~ Fire #2 (2 miles East of our home – began about 24 hours after the shooting)
~ Mandatory Evacuation (2AM – 26 hrs after the shooting)
~ Weeping, disorientation, disbelief, exhaustion
My spiritual father, who had not been feeling well the previous few days, was quickly becoming gravely ill and would go to heaven 3 days after the shooting. This devastation slipped into the pool already full of grief.
Then came the funerals, memorials, public and private events and tributes – all important and honoring and just right. This lasted for weeks and weeks and weeks. The evolving Borderline memorial site was a mix of devastation and comfort. For some of us the site was far too painful to visit, and others of us needed to be there with some regularity.
We were flying flags on our cars and buying tee-shirts and putting stickers on our car windows to display our grief and solidarity. And others outside our community were doing the same. A small local tee-shirt company sold a quarter of a million dollars of clothing and gave every cent of profit to the families of those who were killed. Multiply that story many times over and you start to get an idea of the outpouring of support. It was beautiful.
I could not write about any of this when it happened. There were no words then. Even now, words fall woefully short, at least for me. And besides, a year ago we were so busy trying to care for each other. We’d been shot away from our secure hold to all things normal… as if we’d been individually ejected from a space-ship and were now helplessly adrift. Were we tethered to the ship? We were. Did we feel that tether? Not very often. We got to practice extreme faith in those days. God had us then and still does.
This year, there are scads of folks writing and capturing very well, things we ought to remember on this first anniversary (there will only ever be one first anniversary). I pray we’ll take time to read some of what’s been written – it matters that we let our hearts FEEL. Christ Ones remain in the palm of the hand of God and He will tend to us and let those remembrances work healing in our souls.
We have already learned that being in pain does not disqualify us from offering HOPE to someone else in pain. I pray we’ll do that again as the inevitable triggers come, creating safe space to share our stories. Never has there been a more timely opportunity to practice LOVE that: “bears all things, endures all things, believes all things, and hopes all things,” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). And we can do that out of the abundance of comfort “with which we ourselves are comforted by God,” (2 Corinthians 1:3-6). That well won’t run dry which means we can be very generous.
Two days ago my friend and I were hiking in hills that just recently burned. Both sides of the path were charred but the path itself remained untouched. But there’s nothing to burn on the path. Yes, I think that’s largely the point. We couldn’t help but remind our souls that for all the tragedy of one year ago, we were upon a pathway that was leading us through the devastation, one step at a time. It was a simple picture of the faithfulness and attentiveness of God.
For those of us within the ranks of our community who have placed our HOPE in God, we are meant to move through our grief and pain differently. We feel the full weight of the devastation. We are grieving deeply and hurting. But we do not despair even in the face of things we cannot possibly explain.
We are meant to come along side those without HOPE and share their sorrow. It’s our sorrow too. But we come empowered by the very Spirit of God, and we bear the fruit of His activity in and through us. And THAT is what feeds those who would despair. May we see many birthed into the family of God as we display the marks of genuine Christ followers. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer“, (Romans 12:12).