Yesterday, January 23, was a strange day to be sure. Diane and I went to the orthopedic surgeon’s office for my two week check following the hip replacement surgery. Surprise! We found out that while the surgery went very well, some details changed in the operating room: nothing serious, really, just surprising. My report was good and I have been released from most restrictions. Still a few days away from driving and not quite ready (able) to hit the road running, but I will be easing back into the routine over the next couple of weeks.

When we returned home, we heard the news: Marshall High School had become an active crime scene. A 15 year old student had killed one (soon to be two) of his schoolmates and wounded another 14. Additionally, four students were trampled by others fleeing the carnage. As of this writing, no motive has been divulged and many of the wounded continue to be treated in hospitals. Social media is rift with opinions about the BIG questions raised by yet another mass shooting, in a school, by a child, with children as victims.

I don’t believe there any simple answers to the BIG questions, but I do believe that we as a society must begin to talk about them in a rational and civil manner rather than withdraw to our various camps and corners refusing to engage in beneficial dialog. We need to address the plethora of weapons available to apparently anyone, even a 15 year old. How do these children get these weapons and who can/should be held responsible? Should teachers carry weapons in the classroom? Is it time to ask our legislators if they represent the people whom they represent or the lobbyists who finance their election campaigns? What are the real values upon which America was founded and do we still believe them? If not, what do we believe ARE the current values on our nation?

I received an email the other day, with a meme attached. It was cute. It was uncomfortable. It was heartbreaking. Picture this: Calvin of the no longer being written comic, Calvin and Hobbes, is walking along carrying on a conversation with his imaginary tiger-friend. Calvin, reflecting on the state of the nation, offers these words, “We seem to understand the value of oil, timber, minerals, and housing, but not the value of unspoiled beauty, wildlife, solitude and spiritual renewal.” I am thinking we might see some additional things added to the list the value of which we seem not to understand: the life of a child who is poor or unwanted, a person of color, the follower of a religion of which I have little knowledge (only from social media rants), a free press which is not disrespected, a political process based on policy proposals and not on vilification, misinformation and uncivil rhetoric. I am sure there are dozens more which could be added, but you get the gist of my thoughts. We have some serious questions that require some rational and civil dialogue, seriously.

The class which meets in the library on Sunday mornings is addressing issues surrounding “racism”. That is something to be dialogued about these days for sure. Small groups are forming to talk about A Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation. What other ways can we be engaged in dialogue? Suggestions? Recommendations?