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Stranger Than Fiction

Valentine’s Day fell on Ash Wednesday this year. These days probably mean little to those who didn’t share my upbringing. Growing up Catholic, these two days hold a particular importance on my calendar. Ash Wednesday represents the first day of Lent, a holiday where Catholics fast for 40 days to symbolically commiserate the journey Christ had in the wilderness and how he was tempted by the Devil. Valentine’s Day remembers the life of a martyr who committed himself to realizing love through the grace of God.

Photo Credit: Bobby Jones

I realized that these two holidays occurred at the same time only after I reflected on what happened in the news that day. Over the course of the week, I have obsessively read and reread articles about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. seventeen people have died as of Sunday. Four people remain in the hospital. The news cycle is moving in its all too familiar way. Students, staff, and family have responded with unfathomable sadness. The issues at hand are being politicized, some politicians garnering more attention than others in their discussion of the event. Issues of race and privilege have resurfaced as the shooter is white. Discussions of mental health have been shared every day.

I have been having a hard time processing the information at hand. There’s so much temptation to avoid the noise. I wish I didn’t have to read these things. I wish I didn’t know I could see videos of students under fire online. I miss the days I thought all people were capable of the type of kindness I heard of in sermons.

Yet I learned through my faith that beyond the evil of the world, there are still shreds of goodness. As I read reports of one student dying because he held a door for students to run through, I fell apart. On a day that called for sacrifice and unrelenting love at the same time, one high schooler lived those virtues to his last breath.

I can’t read that story and walk away broken. I still can’t comprehend his kindness. It outweighs every other temptation.

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