Sunday, July 22, 2012

#71: When tragedy strikes.

Friday, July 20th was my birthday. For months now I have been eagerly anticipating the release of The Dark Knight Rises, which came out Friday morning at midnight. I love Batman, and I was excited to see how he would ultimately defeat Bane and save the day. Although I enjoyed the movie, this weekend, Batman suddenly became very unimportant.

As I'm sure is the case with many of you, this weekend I was shocked and saddened when I heard that James Holmes, an apparently gifted and capable young man, walked into the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, opened fire, and killed 12 innocent people while wounding 58 others. These were not just nameless victims--each of them was a father or mother, husband or wife, child or friend of someone left behind. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of these victims who are surely feeling an unbearable sense of loss today.
Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the youngest victim of the Aurora, Colorado shooting.
You can honor the full list of victims at CNN's tribute page.
Like September 11th, like Columbine, like Fort Hood, or like so many others, this latest tragedy will forever alter the lives of those involved. Inevitably these tragedies remind us of the fragile nature of our mortal lives and cause us to step back and consider what really matters in life--our relationship with God and other people. Although we cannot bring these people back or make sense of their deaths, we can honor them by making their lives count for something. Rather than give in to fear and doubt, we can become united in faith and love. We can honor them by unselfishly loving one another as we know we are capable of doing. One of my favorite quotes is from the book Les Miserables. While on his deathbed, the hero of the story, Jean Valjean declares "Remember to love each other, always. There's scarcely anything else in life but that."

As the poet Charles D. Meigs once wrote, may we make this our creed:

Lord help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for – Others.

Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true
And know that all I do for you
Must needs be done for – Others.

Let “Self” be crucified and slain
And buried deep; and all in vain
May efforts be to rise again
Unless to live for – Others.

And when my work on earth is done
And my new work in heaven’s begun
May I forget the crown I’ve won
While thinking still of – Others.

Others, Lord, yes others
Let this my motto be
Help me to live for others
That I may live like Thee.