The horror of what happened at Virginia Tech – the worst mass murder in modern US history – is almost incomprehensible. My heart and prayers go out to the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims and to the entire community.

I wasn’t surprised to hear news commentators say that students were eager to talk to them. Several years ago, a former employee who had been fired walked into a business owned by a friend of mine heavily armed. He shot and killed his girlfriend and a coworker, and he shot my friend in the face. She was rescued after he killed himself, but she required a number of surgeries and a long recovery.

My friend didn’t have insurance, and her friends wanted to help raise money for her medical expenses. We considered a number of different options, but the idea of my writing a book kept coming up and circumstances came together to make the idea feasible. Though I had many doubts and concerns about the project, I became convinced that God was leading me to write the book. I describe more about that experience in my post Writing about Tragedy.

One major concern I had was that the other people involved wouldn’t want to talk to me. The company was small and the employees were very close. Several had managed to escape the shooting but saw their coworkers gunned down. They were friends and relatives of both the killer and the victims. I didn’t want to exploit them or invade their privacy, so I trod lightly.

However, my worries were groundless. When I interviewed them, they started talking as soon as I turned on the tape recorder and only stopped when I asked them to give me a minute to change the tape. The talking served as a catharsis for them, and they appreciated the opportunity to share.

And their love, hope, faith, and courage inspired everyone who reads the book Look Beyond Tomorrow. I’m already hearing about remarkable heroism shown by many of the victims and other students and professors at Virginia Tech. I’m sure as more of the story comes out, we will be inspired by the courage and selflessness of many of the people involved.

We can – and will – ask how and why such horrific events can happen. But we should never lose sight of the incredible acts of bravery, nobility and self-sacrifice that at first sight are obscured by the shocking horror.

At times like this we feel so helpless. We want to ease the pain, but no one can take away the sorrow, shock, fear – the profound agony – that so many feel today and will feel for many tomorrows.

We can pray for their comfort and healing. We can listen to their stories and give them the catharsis that comes with sharing. And we can show our respect and empathy by participating in the One Day Blog Silence on April 30th.

[tags]Virginia Tech, One Day Blog Silence[/tags]

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