Dear AHCC Family,
I am not sure I have the right words to even begin to describe how I am feeling today. When I first heard the news that there had been another mass shooting in our country, I am embarrassed to say that I wasn’t surprised. These horrifying acts of gun violence have become so commonplace that they barely register as a blip on our newsfeed. But as the reports came in explaining that this occurred at an elementary school and multiple children were dead, I fell on the floor sobbing. “What have we become?” I kept whispering to myself. I felt helpless and angry.
We have now learned that at least 19 children and 2 adults were killed. Last night, as I put my own children to bed, I stood staring at their little faces knowing that those parents in Uvalde, Texas were facing the unimaginable reality that that morning was the last time they would hold their babies. It’s heartbreaking and almost feels like too much to handle.
I want you to know that you are not alone in your grief and confusion. Each of us may feel or express it differently, but we all are affected. And it is not lost on me that for those of us who live in Connecticut, the re-traumatization of this event is very real, as not so long ago we learned of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many of you may be wondering, “When will enough be enough?” or “What can we do to protect our kids?”
The Massai tribe of Africa have a traditional greeting: “Kasserian Ingera” which means, “And how are the children?” This greeting reflects the high value the Massai place on their children’s well-being. Even those with no children of their own respond with the traditional answer, “All the children are well.” Meaning, of course, that peace and safety prevail, that the priorities of protecting the young, the powerless, are in place. The Massai society has not forgotten its reason for being, its proper function and responsibilities. “All the children are well” means that life is good and that the daily struggles for existence do not preclude properly caring for the young.
Friends, I am asking myself this same question today – How are the children? How are the children when they can’t go to school and be safe? How are the children when they hear parents and other grownups in their lives talking about yet another school shooting? How are the children when our leaders refuse to act on gun violence legislation, leaving the door open to more events like what occurred in Texas yesterday?
The answer, I believe, is this: WE have an opportunity to make the world safer for our children AND we can talk to them about the realities of this world in a loving and hopeful way. We are never to shy away from the fact that we don’t live in the Kingdom yet, and there will be loss and pain. But we also have a responsibility to ensure our kids grow up in a better world.
If you are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, you are not alone. I want to make sure that you know your clergy are here for you – to offer support, to talk, to pray, to sit in silence together. Additionally, if you need help finding the words to talk with your children or grandchildren, AHCC’s Youth Director Tobey Aubert and I are both available to provide guidance or refer you to resources that may help you in having age-appropriate conversations. We are in this together and your AHCC clergy and staff are holding you in prayer as we navigate the realities of this tragedy.
I truly believe that we live in community so that someday our answer to the question, “And how are the children?” can be, “All the children are well.”
Holding you in love,
Pastor Jordan Rebholz