Our Turn to Get the Phone Call

content warning: school shootings

My middle daughter, Lily, called me Monday night. “Have you seen what’s happening at Michigan State?” “No, what?”

Lily goes to Michigan State. Someone yelled into her workplace that there was a shooter nearby. Her school sent out an email: Run, Hide, Fight. In that brief call, she let me know that she was okay, that she was at work, the doors were locked, and that someone was coming to pick her up.

The next three hours meant us tracking where she was via our phones, texting with her as she hid in the dark, watching the coverage on tv, and of course, being very, very worried.

She was not physically hurt, so we say she was lucky. And so this seems to be where we are now. I don’t know what the actual odds are, but it seems likely that over the course of one’s lifetime, you, or your child, or grandchild, will be calling someone to say, “There is a shooter here….I wanted you to know I’m safe for now….here are my next steps.”

And of course, “I love you.”

It is no longer shocking, and yet it is what we all dread, getting that phone call. And the lucky ones will get a call like what we received, directly from our loved one, letting us know they are scared but safe.

I have been rightly accused of being an optimist, and yet on this topic, I don’t know how to muster hope. Does anyone have any hope that these shootings will bring any change? That there will be any substantive law passed, limiting the guns or ammunition sold?

When I came into church Tuesday morning, there was a note left for me about the “Voices of the Movement” class, and with it, a quote by Gandhi.

“I am an irrepressible optimist. My optimism rests on my belief in the infinite possibilities of the individual to develop nonviolence. The more you develop it in your own being, the more infectious it becomes, till it overwhelms your surroundings and by and by might oversweep the world.” — January 1, 1939

I am reminded again, that to give up is a betrayal to those who came before, those who fought long and hard to create a world that affirms life and rejects violence. We must continue the letters, the calls, the voting — and the development in our own being of the values we espouse. As I preached just this past Sunday, I truly believe we must resist hatred because it destroys our souls, and find ever-expanding ways to love, because that is what will strengthen our souls.

I love you.