Maybe you’ve heard the story, or remember it being mentioned.
If you’ve lived in Pennsylvania for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the story.
If you’ve lived in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, since October of 2006, you probably remember where you were the day the world stood still and looked your way.
On October 2, 2006, a husband and father named Charlie entered an Amish schoolhouse unannounced and uninvited, shooting ten young girls, five of them fatally, before taking his own life. The boys in that schoolhouse? Charlie told them to run. Filled with terror, they ran for help, any help they could find.
It was too late.
Suddenly, in a small village called Nickel Mines, a small farming community surrounded by tranquil pastures and rolling hills, death seemed to cast a pale grey pall over the land.
Naomi (age 7), Marian (age 13), sisters Lena and Mary (ages 7 and 8), and Anna (age 12), were dead, horribly, suddenly. Five others, spared death, hung in the balance, clinging to what shreds of life remained in their shattered bodies. Stalwart and stoic members of the Amish community ran in terror toward a nondescript one-room schoolhouse, crying out for their daughters.
In a home a short distance away, the remnants of a young family stood shattered, grappling with the reality that her husband, their father, had just done something horribly wrong.
An entire community had nowhere to go. No way to understand.
Emergency responders came, frantically, urgently, hurriedly responding to the cries, only to be shattered themselves at the horrors within that schoolhouse.
A peaceful village, seemingly innocent in many ways, felt the world bearing down on its shoulders that day. Terror, sorrow, sin and death seemed to reign unchallenged. Lives changed in a dark instant.
A surrounding community, seething in horror at what happened in its midst, sprang into action. As the jackals descended, they met staunch resistance. An entire community locked down to protect its own. Roads were blocked by law enforcement, not out of an interest in preserving a crime scene, but out of a formidable desire to protect the community from those who would take advantage. No person would enter that did not belong.
And suddenly, quietly, a still small wind blew. A close knit community, misunderstood in many ways by the surrounding world, began to show the world what community meant. Out of horror, love bloomed.
Grace came down.
Families of victims descended upon that young family’s home, not to condemn, or cry out in anger, but to hold and comfort a young wife and her children. Where death seemed to reign, life sprang forth.
Families, suddenly and decisively shattered, knit together in ways that a world didn’t understand, but caused it to marvel. Caused it to look. To pay attention. And wonder.
Out of death, life sprang forth. Out of darkness, light shined. In the midst of desperation, when no answers came, a community turned to God.
And God was there.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never overcome it.” – John 1:5
There are many reasons I’m in awe of my wife, not the least of which is her ability to know me better than anyone else outside God, yet still love me. But there are several quotes that have caught my eye today that seem to illustrate relatively well how much in awe I am of my wife…
She does not need to believe him to have superhuman powers or to be in any way invincible, but in order for her to be emotionally secure, she needs to know that in any threatening situation, he would be in between her and the threat, and that he would die before she did” (For a Glory and a Covering, p. 48).
Now, come on. Did you really think she loved me because of my superhuman powers?!? Of course not! But, the simple fact that she trusts me implicitly with the burden that, when she, or any of our children, are threatened, I’d move heaven and hell to eliminate that threat, is humbling to the extreme.
Speaking of superhuman feats of strength…
[He] had delivered at least three babies in the back seats of cars and taxi cabs, and thought he was qualified to assert that there was nothing whatever that was natural about it. It was the craziest thing in the world. Women were the kind of people that PEOPLE came out of, for crying out loud, and he thought it was the kind of thing best monitored by world-class doctors and sophisticated electronic gear, maintained closely by teams of nurses with graduate degrees in astrophysics. (Evangellyfish, pp. 86-87).
Yeah, SHE’S done that. Given birth to a human being. FOUR times. Without pain medication. And would do it again. I’m a spineless puddle of goo when it comes to that kind of feat of strength and determination.
Ah, but she’s not done…
The relation between husband and wife is not static. He does not sit here being masculine, with her over there, being feminine. They do not radiate vibes across the room at each other. Their relationship is instead a dynamic exchange. He initiates, and she responds — this glorious dance should pervade every aspect of their lives. He bows, and then she curtsies” (For a Glory and a Covering, p. 46).
That glorious being, that picked ME to be her partner for life, won’t settle for anything less than a dynamic exchange. And I love it. No, not because I get to do the bowing, and she the curtseying. Yes, because when I bow, I’m not bowing to an empty room, but to a dance partner who can’t wait to see what the dance is.
So, dance partner. Shall we dance?