The Day After the Last Day of School

I was out driving around and running errands this morning. I drove by the local skating rink and saw two yellow school buses pull into the parking lot and watched groups of kids pour out of the buses into the rink. I drove through the Sonic Drive-In restaurant to order a soft drink on this warm, almost hot, sunny day. I saw two young boys sitting close together on a curb in the parking lot. One had a bicycle and the other a skateboard. They were eating ice cream and talking with their heads close together. Their feet were dusty as they dug their toes into the parking lot pavement. Closer to home, I drove over the bridge crossing a local creek. Two more boys were standing at the rail of the bridge, leaning over the side, dropping sticks and grass into the creek. They watched the things they dropped flow gently down the stream. In my mind I heard the song: “Merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream”

I don’t know if life is but a dream. But this week seemed all too real. Today is the day after the last day of school in our community. Yesterday was the last day of school and the kids had early dismissal. Today is the first day of summer break here, and it made me smile to see kids relaxing, to see kids having fun, to see kids being together and being happy that school is out for now.

Uvalde is five hours from where we live. Santa Fe is thirty minutes away from our house. It cannot be said, here or anywhere else, that “this will never happen here.” These precious kids and their teachers are more than ready for summer. The families too are ready for summer, I imagine.

Last night some folks gathered at our church and prayed for the children and teachers and families in Uvalde. These kinds of prayers are hard, and even harder after the last few years of Covid, of war, and of other gun violence tragedies. We prayed for the families in Buffalo who are freshly grieving the loss of their loved ones. I watched out a window as the golden sunlight of early evening fell on the purple flowers outside. This might be the hardest part of all. Sitting in twilight, thinking of and praying for little children who died needlessly. Holding them and their families in this light and in our hearts.

There are actions to be taken. These needs that arise will be faced with wells that have long been dry. Once again, this needs to change. Our community, our state, and our nation have the capacity to support different outcomes. In so many ways. In the meantime, casually catching sight of children entering into summer, children who are alive, takes my breath away.

There is a lot for us to hold now. There was a lot to hold last week, and the last few years, and now immeasurably more. Grief, exhaustion, rage, love, joy, compassion, outrage, tenderness. Weddings and graduations and slaughter and hospitals and death and life. And sunlight that we all share. Fierce hope that abides in this light.

It is hard to hold all of this. I don’t think my arms are long enough to reach around all of this. And, I know that others, seen and unseen, known and unknown, are holding my hands and your hands. We can hold a bigger space, a giant space together. Time will tell how and when and where. My hope is that we can remember each other with respect and with compassion. May we hold all who grieve and all who suffer in the light, in love, in our hearts. May we learn to hold all of it, to celebrate all that we can and be present to joy, this day and all days. May we discern, now and always, our next right thing and support each other as we continue to create community and hope and love together.