For anyone who doesn’t know, when I’m not making music, I substitute teach in Nashville elementary schools. I genuinely love it, and have thought several times of going into teaching full time. I’m not sure that will ever happen, but I still love subbing.
Friday I was not teaching, and got the news while I was eating lunch. As someone who spends a lot of time at elementary schools (and just as a human being), I was of course saddened and horrified. I had planned on keeping my thoughts to myself regarding the whole event. I don’t want to just be another voice in the crowd.
Yesterday, I was happy to be subbing at my favorite school. When I walked in the door, a parent informed me a prayer vigil was about to start for the Sandy Hook victims. As it began, a 4th grade student prayed for the everyone who was killed Friday by name, including the attacker. I was blown away by the grace a 9 year old girl could show, and just how well she understood what happened. I hurt to see a girl I’ve watched grow from a 2nd grader coming to terms with the world she was growing up in.
When I made my way to my classroom, I found out the teacher I was subbing for had been instructed to come in for a few minutes in the morning talk to her students (at their appropriate level) about what took place at Sandy Hook. Grateful it wasn’t me having to lead this discussion, I sat and listened.
What followed was one of the most difficult scenes I have ever witnessed.
With calm and warmth, the teacher explained a man had broken into a school far away from Nashville, and he harmed some people. Then, after some explaining of things we could do at the school to stay safe, she took questions.
“What exactly did the man do?” a little girl asked.
How this teacher managed to answer the question, I’ll never know. She was able to tell the truth without terrifying children.
She then had to ask them if they were afraid of anything she had just talked about. This was the part that really got me. Every kid raised their hand and shared. Answers ranged from “thunderstorms” from a kid who obviously wasn’t paying attention, to the profoundly sad and yet funny “I’m afraid someone would come do that here and I would die young.”
When I look at the faces of those kids from Connecticut, I see my own sweet, funny students who I’ve grown to love over the last few years. I think about the funny comments their parents won’t get to hear anymore. No more artwork for the refrigerator. No more hugs or excited giggles. It breaks my heart.
It’s so tragic to me the Christmas season will forever be marred for these families. However, I am thankful for the reminders right now of God coming down into this broken world to redeem it. I’m thankful to be surrounded by the hope that this season brings.
Come soon Lord Jesus.