Since yesterday morning, I have been listening to three thousand people talking about the same thing. Even more than that. Even people not here. Even people far removed and far away.
For those of you who don’t know, yesterday the Upland community lost some of their own.
Much like everyone else, I have been shocked. Stunned. Speechless.
Everyone has stopped. There is an air of stillness hovering over the entire campus. We are even mourning in our shuffled steps, in the way we walk across campus.
It’s hard to tell where God is in grief, or even if there is a God at all. But when I look in the eyes of those who grieve, and in the eyes of those who comfort them, I see little glimpses of what looks like God in-between them.
I went to chapel this morning not knowing what to expect. I was late, and noticed dozens of cars parked outside the building. I walked in and noticed a hinged stillness about everyone. And a small, still noise.
As I found a seat, I noticed that there was no worship. I went in searching for words, expecting eulogies, hugs, grief. Instead I found several people on stage wordlessly playing music with bells.
I watched them, and stared at the cross on the stage behind them. I heard the gentle chimes marching in front of one another, and tears in my eyes began to well up. I became overcome not so much with grief, but rather a sense of mournful beauty.
I sat still and prayed for the Nose family. For everyone dear to them.
Then the chapel service started. We listened to songs, sang along, and listened to a sad benediction by a heartbroken President. The lights went up, and people went on about their day.
And moving on didn’t feel right. It still doesn’t, in a sense. I feel like something unspeakable has happened to this community, and we shouldn’t live in today. To do so, in my mind, would be to dismiss what the tragedy that has taken place.
I thought of those left behind. Of the loved ones. Of the ones hurt most directly and painfully by what has taken place.
Everyone leaves someone behind who loves them. I think of the children these people left behind, of the coworkers, of the acquaintances. And if for nothing else, then perhaps we should move on for their sake.
And I’ve been trying to find meaning all afternoon. I’ve been trying to rationalize it. But I think that all of us, sometimes, try a little too hard trying to find meaning in everything. Sometimes bad things just happen, and we don’t know why.
And we may never find out, in this life.
And perhaps this isn’t even the most important thing. Even were we to know the why, would it ease the sting? Would it bring them home?
Instead, we are to grieve in this moment, with them. And then we are to move on. To celebrate the memories that we have. But supporting and helping those who mourn. Who hurt. We may never bring them to healing, but that isn’t necessarily our job.
Our job is to be there. To live our lives.
It is for this that I am somehow thankful. For how tragedy brings us together. For how it, if only for a brief moment, unifies us. Makes us still. To remember that things are sacred. And to remember to love. To remember to be thankful.
Please pray for the Nose family as I am praying for them.