Our community was once again besieged by a gunman. The small university town of Moscow, Idaho is considered safe with a low crime rate, boasting small town personal connections. I want to exclaim to my friends worldwide that hear about this sad event, that this is not a violent or dangerous city! This is not a town with a rampant drug problem, overwhelming poverty and significant low employment. These afflictions, the objects of dysfunction that can pervade into any community’s sense of well being. We found out this weekend that we aren’t Detroit, but we are a microcosm that is fighting the same social battles and ills as the big cities.
The question becomes, what can be our personal response for such a shocking event?
The lone gunman was a son of one of the four victims, Terri Grzebielski. As a mother myself, and a woman that would move heaven and earth for my own three adult sons, I can imagine a younger Terri, a beautiful and loving woman holding this infant son in her arms. I imagine those first few moments that I too experienced with my sons, a moment that birthed extreme joy, but also a great awareness of the commitment I had willingly accepted.
Unfortunately for me, I did not know Terri well, but her shining presence around town, singing in various bands and caring for the community as a physician’s assistant, was never unnoticed. She held a positive light that shone to all that looked her way. Sadly, not many of us knew the shadow darkness that she must have struggled long to erase. The sun itself moves a shadow from one position to the next during its transition through the sky. Terri was such a light that shone through the darkness of physical illness as she attended to patients at work, and the darkness of discontent she most certainly faced in her home. Through her efforts and those of her family, did the shadow get erased completely? No, as we never can erase a shadow without the object disappearing.
The object of this shadow isn’t the young man who operated the gun, it isn’t even the gun itself. The object of this shadow is that crack or break in mental function brought on by a convergence of spiritual, emotional, and possibly even physical illness. This dysfunction or discontent can be in various strengths and stages of emergence and recovery, unfortunately present disproportionately in troubled young men in our country. The tendrils of this epidemic, reaching out to many parts of society, is actually so complex that most of us throw up our hands and turn away from the enormity of it all. Most of us are able to move unscathed through our lives because we aren’t physically looking into the face of an emotionally disturbed person on a consistent basis.
We all know that psychologically unstable people should not own or possess guns, but I don’t imagine these unstable people are having many thoughtful philosophical and political discussions on responsible gun ownership. At the mere movement of one finger on a fatal weapon, in the hand of mentally unstable person, all philosophical and political theories on gun rights are moot. In this split second isolated decision, all talk becomes reality and all of us in the vicinity reel from the gun fire. The vicinity of the shot widens to the world as the aftershocks hit the media. This shot truly was heard around the world, as evidenced personally by my other spiritually adopted exchange son calling from Chile, in a real state of shock and concern for all his Moscow family and friends.
An earthquake of sorts has occurred in Moscow, ID and the emotional Richter scale is recording the quake and the aftershocks brought on by a collision of events. A convergence of events, likely over a lifetime, like plates of earth butting up against each other with such ferocity that both rise up no matter what community is above them. We can’t forget the various epicenters of this earthquake that brought devastation to the other beloved victims, their families and friends; this earthquake is affecting our personal energy source, our light grid and the light is flickering now.
The light in the darkness has revealed the shadow. And it, the light, is among us, below us and around us.
I believe personally that improved spiritual health can create a spark of light that can illuminate some sources of the dysfunction within the entire spectrum of mental instability, beginning with the smallest discontent. I am devoted to this work through my business, Sparks of the Divine. I do not claim that I, or those that do my work, can solely provide the remedy for this illness. However, I do know that I am one source of light, a light that when joined with other health professionals and loved ones, grows stronger. I also do not claim to have all the answers to the questions of mental illness. But I can do something. What I do is strive to help others realize the possibilities of spiritual self-healing that exist within us, at each and every moment when any part of our well-being is compromised.
This is a moment to reach within and find out how bright each of our lights are shining within. Because the candle IS lit… THAT I know. Maybe you need more oxygen to help the candle glow brighter– then meditation can help. Maybe the wick of your light needs strengthening– then connecting with the earth and nature can help. Maybe you are mourning these events or the loss of a loved one and feel disabled in some way– then learning ways to work through grief can help. Maybe the burdens of your life in some way seem to have no solution– then a physical and spiritual connection with God, the Divine, through direct request and intention may provide answers.
Each of us can effect change to our communities through strengthening our own spiritual health and resilience.
I encourage all of us to seek to improve our own spiritual health, through friends, churches, mental health professionals, doctors, support groups, or spiritual coaches like me. We CAN be the community of light, love and positive action that sparks a change that diminishes and strives to see through the object of mental, emotional and spiritual dysfunction.