A Black Day

April 19, 2007

BlacksburgThis was a terrible day for Blacksburg, VA; for America and for the world.

Words are incapable of capturing this heinous tragedy. It’s sad, frustrating, terrifying, nauseating, horrifying, repulsive and many other descriptives and no one word, no collection of words can even touch it. We are fraught with fragility. Days like Monday reveal just how much. There truly is nothing preventing this from happening again and again no matter what precautions we take. And yet, it appears to be happening more and more frequently.

Over the next several weeks we are going to hear a lot from the news media. Comparisons to Columbine. To 911. To Iraq. To Kent. To the Amish. We will hear a lot of blame placed. If so many red flags of danger were thrown to the police and to the University about this person why wasn’t something done sooner? We will see at least one (most likely more) lawsuits against the law enforcement agencies, the university, the town of Blacksburg, etc. We will see the credibility of the sheriff, the FBI, the Provost, the Dean, and a number of other individuals and organizations called into question.

Fingers will be pointed. Names will be called. People will grieve. Words will be slung about like detritus in a tornado.

Just like a year ago. Just like 5 years ago. Just like 7 years ago.

People’s lives will be altered forever. Not just the dead, who we should mourn with all the passion and power of our human hearts, but friends, relatives, everyone across the world.

And yet, five years from now, if not sooner, it will happen again.


As a Christian I feel I know why. I do not condescend to even remotely say this is an easy way out (and anyone who says otherwise is sorely mistaken.) I do not pretend to understand the answer to why. It’s so painful because the answer just leads to another question and I continue to ask. I continue to probe. I continue to pray. Not because it puts finality on it or because it gives me peace or because it eases the pain (it actually does none of these) but simply because I can’t help it.

Tomorrow is a new day. Today is a new day. The next second of your life is a new second. A new chance. Take a look around you. Those people, black, white, male, female, young, old, they’re just like you. No matter what anyone else thinks they are…just…like…you. That gunman on Monday? He was just like you.

Instead of us pointing fingers. Instead of looking outside to find the ‘blame’ or the ‘responsibility’ let’s all look inward. Let’s take a stare into our own black tunnel. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Perhaps if we all take responsibility for our own sins, for our own shortcomings, for our own rage and anger and pain and sorrow, perhaps if we truly look deep into that blackness and address it and confront it and deal with it truthfully, perhaps, just perhaps days like Monday will happen less.

No easy answers. All I can do is question.

And pray. Always.