As I sit here at the end of the day in the peaceful environs of one my favorite places, my heart is heavy. It is inconsistent with my surroundings and almost defies description. My backyard hideaway is awash with the sounds of life. My next-door-neighbor is mowing his grass. Crows are making their presence known. Numerous other birds which I can’t identify by sound can be heard, as well.
Behind the trees—just beyond the meadow which is another neighbor’s back yard—construction is underway. You see, the old frame house, which had been vacant for quite some time, was razed a few months ago to make way for someone else’s dream to be built in its place.
Just now, I heard a horn honk. It sounded like it came from a car that just rounded the curve on the main road outside our development. The speed limit is just 25 miles per hour. No one ever pays attention to that though. This short section of the road has several notable features. There is a series of six sweeping curves with eight driveways and three major roads feeding in to it. Vegetation grows right down to the edge of the pavement. A full canopy of tree-tops covers virtually every inch of the roadway. I’m convinced that some of the people who pass this way each day use it to sharpen their skills just in case they are ever given the chance to drive on the grand prix circuit. Did I mention that no one seems to notice that the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour?
Thus far, we’ve had three of our children drive in-and-out of this development. We’ve often pointed out that if you make a right turn on to the main road, the risk is greatly diminished. The traffic generally is not moving as rapidly from this direction. There is also a full 75 feet, or so, of unobstructed view. We’ve warned our teenagers so often about the dangers of this intersection that we no longer have to give the full speech. The moment we open our mouths they know exactly what we are going to say. Still, we warn them. And, we are not going to stop warning them.
By now you may be wondering about the heaviness of heart which I mentioned above. Well, it stems from the events of the past several days—the shootings in schools, to be precise. I’ve really been in a wondering mood for the past several days. Specifically, I’ve been wondering about warnings. I wonder: Did the parents in Bailey, Colorado, warn their children that they were entering a potentially hostile environment when they walked through their schoolhouse doors? Because of their proximity to Columbine, perhaps they did conceive of it as a possibility.
While we know the school had a plan to respond to such an incident, I wonder if the principal of Weston High School in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, thought it would ever be put in place in his normally peaceful community. And, what can we say in regards to the innocent Amish children living near Paradise, Pennsylvania? The little community of Nickel Mines is barely more than 25 miles from my front door.
No postcard or travel brochure that you have ever seen does it justice. Perhaps it is because of my roots in farming country that I feel so close to God when I am in Lancaster County. When I’m looking at the handiwork of the Amish people and admiring their craftmanship, I always have the sense that the Lord is smiling in approval, because someone has noticed that one of His precious ones has done well.
No, I don’t imagine any of the parents of these children thought for even the slightest fraction of a moment that they were sending their children into harm’s way. The reason these children were attending this private school was to escape from the corruption and violence which characterizes the non-Amish world.
These thoughts have plagued me all day. This is why my heart is heavy. The events of the past few days have brought home the near-to-overwhelming, stark reality of the pervasive presence of evil. There is no satisfactory answer as to why things like this happen. We can’t sound enough warning bells to ensure that our children are safe from all harm, either. As one of the Mennonite neighbors of the Nickel Mines Amish stated during an interview: There’s evil in the world. That’s one thing we know for sure. It’s because of man’s sin nature that things like this happen.
It is so early in the process of determining what happened that I’m reluctant to write anything. However, one thing that seems to be emerging from the ruins of the Pennsylvania gunman’s life is the fact that he was troubled over something from long ago in his past. If what has been reported thus far is accurate, investigators have not yet been able to pinpoint anything in his past that corresponds to his confessions. His rationale for causing additional, untold suffering and pain is simply baffling? How could this possibly be considered a solution? What sort of sick, twisted, perverted thinking is this?!
Please, let us pray for all whose lives have been impacted by these tragic events.
© Bill Williams, October 4, 2006