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Thoughts On a Tragedy

This past week a colleague on the campus I teach at was brutally attacked and murdered at his own home.  His wife was seriously injured in the attack as well.  My colleague leaves 3 children, 2 that are still in High School.

Not only has the campus been shaken to the core over this, but the entire community.  These things don't happen where I live. The night we first learned of this tragedy, my daughter wanted to sleep on the floor in our room.  I get that.  Of course you can sleep on our floor.  I want us all to be together, too.

My colleague was killed early Sunday morning.  Monday was an extremely difficult day on campus.  It's as though we all were numb.  It was noticeably quieter on campus.  Less laughter.  Students and faculty spoke to one another in hushed tones.  People walked with eyes to the ground.  Occasionally I would see spontaneous hugs as tears would suddenly begin to flow once again.  At 10 we had a campus wide gathering in the chapel to pray and come together in our confusion and bewilderment.  We remembered God's love, his goodness and faithfulness even in these times.  Especially in these times.  There was time given for sharing memories about our colleague and professor which included not only tears, but laughter as stories were recounted of his funny and quirky ways.  Clearly this man... father, teacher, friend, son, brother, colleague....was well loved. Because he loved well.

Tragedies like this have a way of eliciting deeper reflection, of giving us a window to see truth in a way that we don't usually see in the normal course of life.  Times like this cause one to see the things that are most important in life... like loving each other, valuing each other, sacrificing for each other, putting other's interests above my own, because its those around us that make life truly meaningful. And we just never know how much time we will have.  I see more clearly how less important "my rights" are, how "my interests" aren't as big of a deal as I tend to think.  This event has caused me to want to hug more freely, encourage others profusely, tell those around me more frequently how much I love them, bless others with kindness, and so much more. I know others are also sensing similar things. So while I am deeply grieved by what has happened this week and the unspeakable pain and suffering this has caused, I am amazed at the ways that I have seen Love springing up.

Karl Shelly an adjunct professor on campus said this: “Two things I know to be true: this world is filled with remarkable beauty and love. And this world is filled with unspeakable violence and pain. We live in between both; with glimpses of heaven and of hell; of darkness and of light. As one who seeks to transform conflict and violence, I will live by the proposition, and walk in the hope, that violence and pain never have the final word ...”


  1. Thank you Tracy, for you wisdom and perspective, and for your encouragement. I would like to use the final quote by Shelly. It is timely and true.
    Lisa Puckett

  2. Lisa, I think you can feel free to use that quote. It so well speaks to the tension we live in and yet the hope that is ours in situations like this.