Like most people, I was dumbfounded and sickened by the news of a school shooting in an Amish community. It seemed surreal, almost like a punchline. It certainly couldn’t be true. But it was true. And it was horrible. And it was more than most of us could even stand to think about it. The horror of those moments for those schoolgirls is unfathomable. Now, after the funerals, the long journey to recovery and healing begins for the survivors and their community.
Reading more about the story, I was surprised by two things. One, the killer's family was invited to the Amish funeral. Two, the Amish leaders asked that a portion of the money donated to the community be set aside for the killer’s family. In fact, the leaders of the Amish community have embraced the widow and children of the shooter.
Cognitively, I understand that the man’s family had nothing to do with the killings, and that they must be as traumatized by the whole thing as the rest of us. More so, obviously. But emotionally, it would be easy to project my anger at the widow and her children.
I am humbled by the Amish and their behavior, in what easily could be their weakest moment. By maintaining their grace and compassion, they remind me that forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves, and that is in giving that we receive our greatest gifts.
May they find peace in this time of sorrow and pain.