I'm sure everyone got to see in yesterday's paper the article that I saw:
AMISH MOURN GUNMAN WHO KILLED SCHOOLGIRLS
Dozens of Amish neighbors came out Saturday to mourn the quiet milkman who killed five of their young girls and wounded five more in a brief, unfathomable rampage.
About half of perhaps 75 mourners on hand were Amish.
'It's the love, the forgiveness, the heartfelt forgiveness they have toward the family. I broke down and cried seeing it displayed,' said Bruce Porter, a fire department chaplain from Morrison, Colorado... He said Marie Roberts was also touched.
'She was absolutely deeply moved, by just the love shown,' Porter said.
Like the rest of the country (and possibly the rest of the world), I have been so deeply moved by the Christlike love shown by this Amish community, which has just blown everyone away. As I was thinking about this headline yesterday, I had two major trains of thought.
First, this tragedy shows, like so many others, the difference between the ways of the world and God's ways. Muslims think they have been "sinned against" and they riot -- burning churches, making death threats, and all the other temper tantrums we've seen displayed time and time again. On the other hand, here is a community that has truly, deeply been sinned against, and they reach out with love, compassion, and forgiveness.
And that reminded me of several other instances where the difference between the ways of the world and God's ways have played out for everyone to see, such as the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, and the deaths of Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul II. I'm sure there have been countless others, but these instances spoke loudly to me how radically different the Lord calls us to be, and how infinitely better His ways are than ours.
My second train of thought hit a lot closer to home.
I can't even begin to imagine the raw pain those Amish families are experiencing right now, and I'm sure that no words could begin to comfort them. But I hope that someday, when the initial grief has subsided, they can be comforted with the knowledge that they trained their children in the faith well. No one, NO ONE, wants to ever experience the death of one of their children, and especially not in the horrific way those Amish girls did. And yet, in the midst of that horror, we have a 13 yr old girl -- who wants to live as much as the next person -- say to the gunman, "Shoot me first, and let the others go." That's not just some spur of the moment bravado she mustered up. That is courage and love born out of years of quiet teaching by words and example by her parents and community, and activated by God's grace.
While I would never, never, ever want anything like that to happen to my children, I have to realize that their safety is not our ultimate goal -- their salvation is. Our job as parents is to equip them, pray for them, learn with them, and then... if the ultimate sacrifice for our Faith is demanded of us, that we all would be able (by God's grace) to face it with the same quiet courage.
I hope that that Amish mother can say, somewhere deep in her heart, "Well done, sweetheart. You learned well, baby, and I'm so proud of you."