Community Reflection for Newtown

Community Reflection: December 14, 2012

There are simply no words to express our shock and sadness at today's tragedy in Connecticut. We are all concerned, for the victims and their families, for our colleagues - even for people we have never met - at this school for small children, for our campus community, and for those at schools across the country as we take in and try to process such a devastating event. Let us gather together in support of each other, so that we may face the challenges this event poses for us, and for our neighbors, near and far, in the coming days and weeks in healthy and caring ways.

Let me urge you to reflect on a few ideas. The first is community - here at Lasell, in Newtown, Connecticut, at other schools, and in our lives and work beyond school. An event like the shooting today affects all of us, so it is important to be present for each other, to lend our shoulders to each other to lean on, and to ask questions together, even knowing that we probably don't have the answers, so that no one will feel alone or isolated or burdened. This is a good time to focus on the things that unite us, and to put aside (or at least to see in their proper light) those things that divide us.

The second reflection is compassion. Some of us are angry, some are frightened, some are sad, some are confused, and some of us simply have no names for the jumble of emotions that fill our hearts. But all of us have hearts, and we all know something of the pain of loss and the sting of promise unfulfilled - multiplied today by at least twenty-six. But we also know something of pain, even such inexplicable, deep pain, that would lead someone to feel so unwelcome and so hurt as to inflict pain on others. That is our biggest challenge, to reflect on how we can best deal with our own pain or disappointment or loss, when we feel them, so that we do not in turn inflict that pain on others. And then there is the challenge of how to reach out to those whose pain threatens to overwhelm them, and make the world a little safer and less threatening for them, too.

And the last reflection is healing. It is still early to talk about healing, while this pain is fresh and new. But by simply talking about how we are and what we feel we start the healing process, just as the first application of healing balm helps begin the process of healing wounds. We can be healers not only of ourselves but also of others - so, let each of us resolve today to take care, to show care, and to reach out in all the ways we are able.

Thank you. Please light a candle this evening, in your home, to remember those who were lost today. And whether you are a parent or a child, and especially if you are a teacher, give and get some extra hugs today.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas P. Sullivan