There are a lot of important conversations happening in the wake of the absolutely monstrous tragedy that took place at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.
The weight of the lives lost—the where and how—is unbearable, and the why remains so far beyond understanding, I have trouble even asking the question out loud.
We all want to fix it, to say something that will take the events of that day back, or, at the very least, ensure that something like this will never and could never happen again.
I understand that want and that need, and I will continue to listen and contribute to the conversations and elections that hopefully will make that difference.
But when I was reflecting on what happened in Texas. When I thought of the families and the children and the teachers. As I bared a fraction of the pain that they are carrying right now, I kept having one image come to mind: The ocean.
I kept imagining being in the middle of the ocean, with no idea where to go or how to stay afloat, all while the waves raged and crashed. That’s how I imagine grief like this—like losing your child to senseless violence, like seeing an unspeakable tragedy unfold in your backyard—must feel. Like unendurable chaos. Like drowning.
While many of us will read about this tragedy online, waiting for the chance to vote or advocate or donate to causes or laws that aim to prevent this from ever happening again, there are people and families that will continue to feel like they are actively drowning. Amongst all of the arguments and social media posts and anger and hatred and blame and desperation, these people will still be feeling the full weight of this grief, holding on for dear life.
And so I’m thinking about them today—thinking about you.
I know that “thoughts and prayers” is practically a cliché at this point. So I want to be clear that when I say I’m thinking about you and that I’m praying for you, it’s not vague and it’s not impersonal.
I am hopeful that I can somehow pray to exactly where you are—right there in the water.
There is a story in the bible when Moses, who is freeing slaves from Egypt, parts the Red Sea so that they can get across. It is perhaps one of the most well-known bible stories, and one that shook me as a kid. I liked to imagine walls of fish higher than the Israelites heads, swimming around like nothing was out of the ordinary, like the sea hadn’t just split in half and humans were walking through it.
And while this notion of “splitting the sea” only literally happened once, the metaphorical experience is referenced a lot in the community of faith.
In the song “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music, there is the lyric: “you split the sea so I could walk right through it.” And in the song “Graves into Gardens” by Elevation Worship, there is one that says: “You turn seas into highways.”
And so my prayer is that through the support of your family, your friends, your community, our country, and the world, you will find something to grab onto, something to help keep you afloat as you mourn. I pray that you would not focus on the why—for nothing, no answer, no reason will take this pain away or make it make sense—but rather on the who. Who you lost. Who they were and how not just their death but their life changed the world.
I pray that in time the sea will split for you. That these raging waters will turn into solid ground. That you will find a path—not out, not away, but through. Right through the center, between the high walls of fish. And I pray that you’ll find freedom on the other side. Not from the memory of those you’ve lost, but from the darkness that would gladly hold you captive forever. I pray there’s a sunrise, and every color imaginable, I pray there is good where evil thought there could be none, and I pray there is hope when it once seemed impossible.
I am thinking of you, and I am praying for you. May faith find you, right there in the water.