WHY THE GATHERING?
"Why" is a question that has become sickeningly familiar to us. It is a question that we have asked ourselves every time the unspeakably tragic news of school violence has reached our families, our towns, our televisions. We have asked ourselves why, we have asked the perpetrators why, we have asked God why. Why Moses Lake, why Paducah, why Jonesboro, why Littleton. Only yesterday, it seems, they were normal cities and towns many of us had never heard of. Why Arnie, why Kayce, why Britthney, why Lauren. Only yesterday they were normal children full of hope. Why my child, why my neighbors child, why my school. To those "whys", only God knows the answer.
But to this "why", we know the answer. The gathering is for our children all of our children. It is for those who are now in Gods hands, it is for those who were spared by a fraction of an inch or a fraction of a second, it is for those who lived these tragedies from far away, never believing it could happen in their schools. Our children are the most beautiful things in our lives. Nothing can surpass the joy of seeing our children blossom; nothing can surpass the devastation of knowing they will never come home. And the gathering is for parents everywhere, to pray and to make it our purpose to spare any more families the unthinkable. And it is because we care.
While not all of us have known the anguish of losing a child to senseless violence or the anguish of not knowing for hours whether or not our child had been taken, those of us who helplessly watched from far away are here to say we care. We are here to say we want to help, because we realize that it is only by the grace of God that our towns and our children were spared. Yes, we are here because we care.
We remember the sick feelings in our souls as we watched the solemn faces of reporters tell us you were living every parents worst nightmare. We didnt know you as friends but we did know you as parents. We remember the uncontrollable tears as we heard the names and saw the faces that made your losses so real to us. We remember the urge to run to your sides in your time of greatest need. We remember the anger and frustration as we heard of signs that should have been heeded by parents who had forgotten that attention to their children was their most important responsibility.
The purpose of our gathering is not, however, to point fingers of blame or dwell on what might have been. It is to enjoy the new friendships that have been created, and to share in renewed hope. It is to learn from the mistakes of the past and take positive steps so that we may be alert to the signs of impending trouble and act on those signs. It is to prepare ourselves to plant that ounce of prevention because we know that for our grief there can be no cure.
Now let us pray that from our friendships will come peace in our lives, and that together we can make a difference. Until we meet, God bless you.