Columbine Reflection

Columbine

I went for a prayer service with a group of Jesuit novices to a park located next to the Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado where the shootings took place that killed twelve students and a teacher. As I reflected silently upon what had transpired there I imagined the terror and screams that must have echoed down the halls, through the classrooms, and risen from the school as a single, desperate prayer. I imagined the students running around, seeking for shelter, and advising their friends and even those who were not their friends. I imagined the teachers who looked out facing a wave of chaos enveloping them. I imagined the police officer running to the lone victim outside the school. I could feel his heart racing until it stopped at the sound of gunfire. The frantic calls for help, the SWAT teams and officers swimming through schools of frightened young men and women. Not knowing if one of them was a shooter. I could see images of the slain victims and feel the empty silence of their last breaths prematurely interrupted. I felt the shrill of pain that went through each parent's spine and grabbed their hearts and terrorized their minds. I felt the cold, isolating anger that stirred the souls of the shooters. I felt their hunger and their need for something, someone, somewhere to latch on to. Looking for values that might make sense of their suffering. No answers came. I thought of all the children who are out working the streets - selling drugs or themselves. Searching, searching for meaning and finding no answers. The countless underprivileged unnoticed, forgotten in this world searching for a world of excitement. The young men and women in gangs who receive attention in exchange for inflicting pain on others or having it inflicted upon themselves. The unknown numbers of slain youth dying in the midst of their search, in the midst of their dreams, and in the midst of a fragile world all too easily broken and shattered around them. I closed my eyes and I listened, I saw, I felt the full impact of indifference to our youth. I pray that out of this and the other tragedies that occur daily throughout the world; kill our young; and rob us of their great vitality and hope that a renewed spirit of love and concern may grow. The blood of the victims cries out from the earth and rises to the heavens. May we have the courage to get involved with the youth in a respectful, sincere, and loving dialogue. May we reach out to them not as critics but as role-models. May we truly listen to their struggles, walk with them, and learn from them.