On Saturday, October 24th, my immediate family drove with Sheryl’s parents to Stillwater to attend the Homecoming parade at OSU. Sheryl’s cousin was up for homecoming queen and we wanted to see her live and in person. This would be the first time I had been to a homecoming parade in Stillwater since my senior year when I was in it.
We were watching the floats go by from the corner of Main Street and Hall of Fame. As we stood just behind the front row of people, we were lamenting that we weren’t closer so that we wouldn’t have any obstructions in our line of sight.
At the end of the parade, we heard a loud bang from our left and I first thought it was some kind of fireworks signaling the end of the festivities but then we saw the car smashing through the crowd right in front of us. It happened so quickly, that there wasn’t time to think.
Then we saw the aftermath.
I began to search for our children to make sure they were okay. I got them to Sheryl’s parents and then turned to see Sheryl trying to help the victims. I remember imploring people not to move anyone but to wait for the medical personnel.
Then I pulled her away from the scene and we all made our way back to our vehicle. Our daughter then noticed that she was bleeding slightly on her hand and must have been struck by debris from when the police motorcycle was hit by the car. Before we left town, we circled up in the parking garage and prayed.
In the initial moments when I realized this was horribly wrong, I had this sense of fear that it was an attack similar to a school shooting and I wanted to get my family away from the scene as quickly as I could.
Later as the shock wore off, I began to feel guilty that I didn’t do more for the victims of that crash. It was especially bad after I realized that the immediate danger was the only danger and no additional attacks were forthcoming.
Sheryl had the right idea of helping the victims but I also felt that I needed to keep our children from witnessing the deceased and the injured among the mayhem.
It is hard to know the right thing to do in such a moment.
How do we bear witness to the love of God in a scene like this?
As we attempt to return to our regular lives, we are replaying the scene over and over. It is distracting us and keeping us from all the regular things that are going on around us as if everything were normal. It is crying out for our attention.
|When we hurt, we offer this pain|
to God who suffers with us.
We are certainly praying for the victims and their families. We are praying for Adacia Chambers as well even though she almost killed us. Like the rest of us, I can only speculate at this point on the question of why it happened at all.
I have ministered before in times of tragedy and loss. I always state confidently that I do not believe that God is the ultimate author of this tragedy. People do things to hurt others and have the free will to do so. I also have the free will to respond. No matter how many times people try to put others on the cross through pain and suffering, I believe that God responds with resurrection.
A part of our witness as followers of Jesus Christ is to point out where we see it.
As the images of that day replay in my mind and I worry about what kind of emotional trauma my children may be experiencing from it, I am praying not to be bitter or resentful. I am free to feel or experience whatever I would like. But I believe peace is the ultimate prize.
May the peace of God be yours today.
Photo by Immanuel Giel, Memorial Church in Speyer, Germany, used under Creative Commons.