I can imagine some clucking their tongues at that one. How could she tell him such a thing in the face of potential horror? How could she not? He voiced to her the words that too often are felt but not spoken by those who feel most vulnerable and marginalized in our society. He told her that no one loved him. At just 20 years of age this man had barely distanced himself from childhood. I wonder if the woman could see the frightened child lurking beneath the scary exterior.
I'd like to hope that there will be no further incidents of this type, and I do believe that we need to enhance services to those who struggle with mental illness. I am a proponent of stricter gun control. Yet, I feel a greater sense of responsibility here, and I believe that we share the load. How many people do we meet daily who would benefit from hearing the words "I love you"? How many times might those three words make someone pause enough to take a breath, to possibly change his or her mind? And what if we took it beyond speaking the words? What if our actions said "I love you" to a stranger looking for directions, to a child who appears lost, to a parent holding tight to the last thread of patience, to a person too ill, too tired, too despondent to feel worthy of love? What if we each went out of our way just a bit to extend a kind word, to offer an embrace, to feed someone, to bear witness to the struggle of another even as we feel helpless to lighten the load?
The story could have gone the other way. The gunman could have not responded to the woman's words. The lesson chills me inside even as it fills me with hope. The woman stood to lose nothing by reaching out in love. Her life and the lives of so many were at stake. She could have met the man with defiance, anger and bravado. All would have been justified under the circumstances. Her choice to meet him instead with love came from a place we shy away from talking about. When asked by the newscaster how she stayed so calm, she stated "I prayed". There are thousands of ways to pray, millions of prayers that are written, and millions more finding their way out of peoples hearts in the time it takes to write this. There are some who might feel that their method of prayer is more "right" than that of others. There are others who prefer not to speak of prayer at all. The common thread is love. When we come from a place of love, we no longer need to worry about being right. Love is always right. Love always wins.-and, yes, I love you.