Moments of Violence, Then — A Year of Grace and Love

SPU arch[Posted yesterday, June 5, 2015, on my Facebook page.]

One year ago today, my friends and colleagues at Seattle Pacific University responded to gunshots with courage, selflessness, faith, generosity, and grace. One act of violence inspired countless shows of love, compassion, and mercy that are continuing.

Certain people in the media keep clamoring for access to video footage of the violent acts, because that is what they want the world to see, no matter how much that would hurt our community and the families of those harmed — all for a little money.

Me, I wish I knew how to show you something else — I wish I could show you the inspiring spirit of hope and healing that continues to rush like a wind through our campus.

It could have ended with a retaliatory gunshot — but I am so grateful that it didn’t. The shooter’s life was spared. We learned about his afflictions, his illness, his brokenness. The victim’s family set up a foundation to study and improve help for people who struggle as he does.

It has been awe-inspiring to behold.

Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. God can do so much with that.

SPU alexanderYou can participate in turning those acts of darkness into light — pray for SPU today and during these last days of the school year, for all who are still hurting and healing.

Pray especially for the family of Paul Lee.

Pray for safety on our campus, wisdom for our leaders, and inspiration for our students.

Pray for our security officers.

Pray for vigilance, in your own life and in the lives of those around you, that we can be so perceptive and generous in our love that no one goes wanting, that no one feels so alienated and disconnected that they would seek to do harm.

When I think back on June 5, 2014, I think of the harm one person did, and I wonder how many harmful acts the ensuing rush of grace prevented. I am grateful for this community, and for how God goes on making beautiful things out of broken pieces.

You can view local news coverage of the anniversary:

Q13 Fox on the one-year Memorial Service.

King5 News on the student journalists and their reflections on the experience.

The Seattle P-I: A story and a slideshow.

P.S. For those who don’t know my connection to SPU, or understand my passion for it… here’s a little history:

My parents met at SPU, and my father proposed inside Alexander Hall (pictured above). I attended there from 1989 – 1994, and in 2003 I returned with great enthusiasm to work in that community.

But I should clarify, I’m not a professor. I’m often asked about my teaching at SPU when I am interviewed about my novels, or when other schools invite me to speak about the arts, film criticism, or creative writing. The fact is that my work experience as a creative writing teacher, film instructor, workshop leader,  and conference speaker has come about because of the work I do outside of SPU as an arts columnist and reviewer for Christianity Today and Image, as a novelist, and as a blogger. I love the idea of teaching at SPU someday, but they’ve kept me very busy for 12 years as a “communications specialist” in their office of University Communications. I spend most of my time copyediting materials and managing print orders, and when I get the chance I write about students and alumni for Response magazine.

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