John 16:20 says, "Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy."
The nation's prayers and thoughts have turned to Blacksburg, Virginia these past two days, as have Dartmouth's. A well-publicized candlelight vigil was held last on campus last night, and I attended a compline service at our Episcopal campus ministry dedicated to the victims. Our ministry a connection with the Episcopal campus ministry at VT - the put us up for the night and fed us twice during Spring Break last month, as we drove to and from New Orleans. After that visit, I encouraged my brother to look at VT as a prospective college. Father Scott and the students were gracious, inviting people, and the campus was beautiful. Fr. Scott writes a good blog, and I'd been intending to link to it here, but he has apparently set it to invited readers only. That wonderful little town did not deserve to be repaid this way.
It's hard for me to gauge reaction at Dartmouth, as I've been holed up in my dorm or office the last couple days, and did not attend last night's vigil. From what little I can tell, the dominant reaction, in addition to sadness, seems to be one of "Oh my God, that could happen here!" I say this based on a discussion we had in class today with two visiting former Congresspersons, and on an article about last night's vigil in this morning's school paper. Indeed, like Blacksburg, this is a small, seemingly calm and tranquil town, but all it takes is one person. It's scary to think about, looking around a classroom with just one or two doors. Whenever I read about student Derek O'Dell barricading a classroom door to prevent the gunman from re-entering, I picture one of the classrooms in Dartmouth's Rockefeller Center.
You've no doubt been thinking about and perhaps praying for the victims, their families, surviving students/staff/faculty, the first responders and medical personnel, and the Blackburg community. Perhaps you've prayed for the gunman, as well. I would encourage you to add some more folks to that list: the gunman's family. His parents will no doubt recieve much harrassment and hate as a result of their son's actions, and are surely suffering from heavy hearts and pains of guilt. Pray for their healing, too.
This sad incident reminds me of the song "Friend of Mine" by two Columbine students. Read about and listen to it here. Lyrics here.
On one final note, at least this story generated some heros. Pressure shows a man's true colors, and Professor Liviu Librescu's colors didn't run.