All Those Ribbons

A terrible thing happened nearby last week. This post is cross-published on my local Patch blog. 

Last week I happened upon a quote I immediately recognized as a near-perfect reflection of my philosophy of life: “It’s a beautiful heartbreaking imperfect world. And it’s a gift to be alive in it."

The next day the gift of life was violently stolen from Kelli Joy O’Laughlin, and the world abruptly became that much more heartbreaking and imperfect. Not just the world; the neighborhood.

We have all been deeply affected by her tragic and senseless murder. We mourn for the death of a beloved child of God, ache for her devastated family, and shudder at the nearness of the crime. We ask harrowing questions: How can humanity be so vile? How can God let such things happen?

We weep, and double check the locks on our doors, and hug our children too tightly.

I was out of town over the weekend, and returned home at dusk on Tuesday night to behold tree after tree marked with white ribbons. The sight of all those ribbons is devastating and moving. Each one evokes the memory of a girl named Kelli Joy. Each one bears testimony to our shared horror at her death. Each one cries out for justice to be done. And each one silently proclaims that this community refuses to let fear and violence prevail.

We will be a hopeful community, despite our grief. A trusting community, despite the loss of our innocence. A loving community, despite our rage. We will not forsake this beautiful heartbreaking imperfect world, or let the incursion of evil convince us that life is anything but a profoundly sacred gift.

Each one of those ribbons pledges we will be neighbors.

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