As a member of my school’s Safety and Security team I voluntarily raised my anxiety levels through the roof in attending the Active Shooter Training by the Metropolitan Police Department. The MPD want to educate, inform, and help schools plan “when, not if” a lone wolf enters a school with a weapon. (deep breaths)
I totally understand their motivation and having a plan is the first step. I want to be safe. I want my students safe. Good intentions abound. (more deep breaths)
But aside from shock value, I hesitate to see the motivation behind watching the unedited Columbine shooting surveillance camera footage. (almost hyperventilating)
Or rather, I watched about a minute and then turned away, forced to listen to the screams, the shots, the horror. (emotionally removing myself from the situation at this point)
Later I bawled ugly tears to Mike. I doubt those images or sounds will ever leave me.
The whole experience, the training and the video, changed me and I am still searching for a positive light.
Friday night we attended an MLK & Rabbi AJ Heschel memorial Shabbat service at the historic 6th & I synagogue. A baptist church along with this “non-denominational, non-membership, non
A gospel choir sang praises while their church members swayed with feeling, shouting “Amen.” The traditional Jewish Shabbat prayers were chanted solemnly. The Afro-Semitic klezmer and African folk music fusion band enhanced both forms of worship. The overall feeling of unity, despite faith and skin-color difference, filled the space.
The preacher read an excerpt from Dr. King’s sermon A Knock at Midnight:
“Centuries ago Jeremiah raised a question, ‘Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?’ He raised it because he saw the good people suffering so often and the evil people prospering. Centuries later our slave foreparents came along. And they too saw the injustices of life, and had nothing to look forward to morning after morning but the rawhide whip of the overseer, long rows of cotton in the sizzling heat. But they did an amazing thing. They looked back across the centuries and they took Jeremiah’s question mark and straightened it into an exclamation point. And they could sing, ‘There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.’ And there is another stanza that I like so well: ‘Sometimes I feel discouraged.’
And I don’t mind telling you this morning that sometimes I feel discouraged. I felt discouraged in Chicago. As I move through Mississippi and Georgia and Alabama, I feel discouraged. Living every day under the threat of death, I feel discouraged sometimes. Living every day under extensive criticisms, even from Negroes, I feel discouraged sometimes. Yes, sometimes I feel discouraged and feel my work’s in vain. But then the holy spirit revives my soul again. ‘There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.’”
If Dr. King felt discouraged, if he felt like he lived under the threat of death and did not hide behind his fears, then I too can step forward.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.
There is a balm in Gilead.
I can turn my question mark into an exclamation point.