Tragic Guilt

It’s been a week since seven people died in a terrible shooting spree a few miles down the road from where I sit.  Friends around the country have been sending notes on Facebook and calling up to see how we’re holding up here.  It’s been encouraging, but I feel guilty.

I read about similar episodes elsewhere, the high drama of it all.  The emotional impact.  The political fallout.  The theological opportunities.  Now that it has happened close to us, perhaps the biggest sensation for me is one of guilt.  
Our community, our town, our metropolitan area is fairly small.  Geographically the shootings took place less than 15 miles away.  But culturally, they happened a long ways a way.  They happened in an area of town that is somewhat isolated from the rest of the city and certainly isolated from my weekly comings and goings.  I know that area of town less than any other area of the county, probably.  Our congregation has no students there.  No families with students there.  No families with relatives there.  We have one woman in our congregation who lives in the area – and talking with her about all of this has been important and helpful.  And while interviewing people this week for a position one of the girls turned out to be a sorority sister of two of the people who were killed.  But other connections are hard to find. 
Even trying to place myself into the midst of it, attending a student vigil a week ago, there was no real connection.  Everyone was enclosed in their private grief.  There was no talking, no conversation, no opportunities to really make connections with people.  The post-traumatic stuff was too strong.  I gave the girl I met this week a handful of my cards and told her that if she or her sisters or friends needed anything to let me know.  But I doubt I’ll hear from her again.  Our trajectories are just too divergent.
So being a good Lutheran I revert to what I know best – guilt.  I feel bad that I don’t feel as bad as some others do.  I feel bad that I’m not impacted the way others are.  I can acknowledge that part of this is due to how I’m wired, and part of it is due to circumstances.  But I still feel bad.  
Just not bad enough, apparently.

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