As I drove South into Bellingham today to run a few errands, the sky overtook me. From the East, dark clouds loomed, gushing heavy rain. From the West, patches of blue sky peeked through, promising. And from above, the sun shone perfectly through, stretching its arms through openings in the clouds. Fortunately I was alone in the car, because I spent the next five minutes alternating between extremely safe driving and risking my life trying to capture the moment on the camera on my phone. In hindsight, I should have just pulled over and gotten out the real camera and avoided reckless driving.

I laughed, realizing I’ve always had a fascination with clouds and light, but had never put words to the thought. I stop quite often and look up. I wish I could pay more attention to the things around me. But I guess I feel the beauty of what I see when I look upward conquers and dims everything else around me. I don’t bother to study all the scientific mumbo-jumbo… I just think the sky is breathtaking and that’s where it ends.

Once I parked, I sat in my van to upload my picture to Facebook. I got distracted as I realized the extent of the tragedy that occurred today in Connecticut. I read something earlier that day about a school shooting, but hadn’t looked into it further. I don’t know official numbers, but last I checked there were 18 young elementary students dead, and about a dozen staff members. I don’t know any of those people, and neither do most of my Facebook friends; but tragedy affects even the most distant when we see people suffering.

After arriving home, Aaron and I turned to CNN to get more information on the situation. Twenty-four year old man, previously attended the school where he unleashed chaos, and killed his own mother who was a teacher there. His brother was found deceased at his home as well. Neighbors remarked that he and his brother seemed like “troubled kids.” I still can’t believe it; someone shot and killed thirty people in a rampage, and included his own mother in the fatalities. Heartbreaking and disgusting.

Facebook lit up today in response to the incident. People angry, hurt, confused, and fearful. Some bring up the argument that harsher weapon laws should be invoked. Others are pushing for harsher justice for criminals. Others are now fearful of the schools and security methods in their own kids’ schools. Some are just sad, and a bit paralyzed over the incident. Some are heavy-hearted and praying fervently.

So… what’s really important in this whole situation?

Let’s turn back to a conversation I had with a young mom I knew through one of my kids’ activities. She shared that she makes some decisions because “she just doesn’t want to deal with the friends her kids might bring home.” Not sure I should get into specifics. But it made me sad that she would make a decision to completely shelter her kids so they don’t make the “mistake” of being friends with troubled kids.

Here’s what I think: those of us who lead upright lives, and want to see good things happen in our world, need to suck it up, take a deep breath, and get out in the real world. And we need to teach our kids how to do the same.

These people we judge—the ones who murder, lie, steal, abuse, neglect, and abandon—are worth it. And on top of that, we seem to forget we are in this mess with them. They deserve love and attention; and in fact, because they are human, they CRAVE it. So, is it possible the shooter craved attention from his mother but she always spent time with her students? They deserve healing and treatment. What happened to him as a child or teenager that changed him? Did anyone notice and try to help? They deserve a friend, a confidant. How many of his peers walked away because he was too “messy”?

I’m sure we can all think of a few kids who cause problems. Do you have a personal relationship with them, or do you know someone who does? Is anyone trying to be a good friend or a role model? I’m sure we can all think of a broken, shattering family. Maybe a neighbor? Maybe a family in your church or sport team everyone pities… but no one wants to talk to? Maybe that friend who sits next to your son or daughter in school who you’d “rather not bring home for a playdate”?

IMAGINE how their future could change with just a few simple actions. That sweet, troubled kid or teen you don’t want in your house could turn into a lot of things. That student has no control over his or her future, and is being faced with some pretty unhealthy substances, language, and behavior.

I know many of us feel it would be unhealthy for US to get involved.

But, just as the warmth of the sun weaves its way through the darkness and fills it, we are naturally woven into the lives of others. Not because of a certain faith, not because we’re the president; but because we are human, and we are in this together.

Let’s respond to the incident today in prayer. Let’s also respond by opening our eyes and choosing to be aware of those around us, and responding with compassion instead of disdain when they don’t meet our standards.

Look at the picture again. Do you see it?! It all makes sense to me. 🙂