Thursday, May 19, 2016
Thoughts on Columbine
While in Littleton, CO, last weekend for my graduation, I decided to visit Columbine and the very sobering memorial that is nestled beneath a grassy knoll, just a few hundred yards north of the school. When it was dedicated in the year 2000, then President Bill Clinton was present and gave the dedication address.
I have visited Columbine Memorial once before; I think it was the first year or two into my doctoral studies, I drove the few miles from Denver Seminary to the site and spent a few minutes there. This second visit, last week, seemed to impact my emotions in a more powerful way than the first time. I think that happened, in part, because unlike the first visit, this time my family were with me. As a Father, and in my ministry role which connects me closely to the mission of our schools, this re-visit felt personal. Since so many bad things have happened in the past few years, we may have forgotten that in a sense, Columbine was the event that inaugurated and defined terror in a way this nation had never before witnessed. My re-connecting with Columbine, reminded me of that event that even those affected personally that day, might choose, if they could, to forget:
It was 17 years ago last month, just a few weeks before the school year would end that an unimaginable horror unfolded in the hallways, classrooms, and cafeteria. Remember that day? The first time we would be introduced by the media to the word "terror," though we couldn't have guessed, it would today, be a common word throughout the world. I think Columbine seemed to give birth to a new dark era of continued mayhem, murder, and senseless violence that now characterizes our world.
On that grim morning in April, 1999, parents, friends and family learned that 12 kids, and 1 teacher, would not return home that night. Would not enjoy supper around the table with family, would not laugh or complain about the days events, would not mention for the thousandth time, "can't wait for school to be over!" Wouldn't watch their favorite TV show, wouldn't complete their school assignments for the next day, wouldn't dream, cry, love or mourn again. What a dark day it was for Columbine, and really, for all of us who were reminded - once again - that Satan is real. Evil exists, and sometimes . . . for a few moments . . . the darkness seems to swallow the light.
The memorial is simple, if elegant. Every person who lost their life that day is honored with a summary of their life, etched into an engraved marble slab set into a circular granite wall. What struck me in reading their stories is how many of the students were followers of Christ. The most well-remembered of them was Rachel Scott who looking down the barrel of a gun, and was asked "Do you believe in God?" Her reply, "You know I do!" Those were her last words. I'm reminded, that praise God . . . Jesus also has the last words. The last words in the Great Controversy and who wins the final round between Christ and Satan, the last words in proclaiming victory over death, the last words as to our eternal destiny.
A few pictures below you'll see one of the references at the memorial to the presence of God in the midst of the tragedy. A good reminder, that even in unspeakable tragedy, God is not silent, He is there, and what a glorious day it will be, when his final words are a pronouncement that sin and darkness are no more. That the war of Satan on planet earth is finished, and it is time, at last, for us to go home!