How Do We Respond to this Hell. Nashville After the Shooting


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On Friday, March 31, 2023, I sat in a small room, simply off the choir loft at Woodmont Christian Church, the church the place I’m a member, in Nashville, Tenn.

From that room, I listened as the legendary singer, Vince Gill, sang for the funeral of Evelyn Dieckhaus, one in every of the nine-year-old kids killed in The Covenant School capturing only a few days prior.

I don’t understand how Gill stored his composure—how his vocals stayed so true. When he regarded again at the piano participant as soon as, I might see he was crying, however he managed to make it by way of the tune, “What a Wonderful World,” his voice conveying tenderness and brokenness and someway, even magnificence.

In truth, Woodmont Christian’s pastor reached out to Gill earlier in the week and requested that tune for the household. The very day of the funeral, Evelyn and a few of her classmates have been supposed to be in a play at college, and so they had been practising that tune. Can’t you simply hear the voices of kids singing these phrases which are such an integral a part of our nationwide songbook? “I see trees of green, red roses, too.”

With The Covenant School capturing and the political furor in the U.S. surrounding weapons, we will be forgiven for not feeling that this is a superb world, particularly not recently for 1000’s of fogeys in Nashville.

Read More: A Gun Violence Survivor Took Over a Nashville Briefing: ‘How Are Our Children Still Dying?’

I feel again to the day the capturing occurred: As I sat in my workplace at Belmont University on Monday two weeks in the past, my colleague in the subsequent workplace got here to my door, gazing his telephone in disbelief.There’s a school shooting in Green Hills,” he mentioned.

My thoughts rushed to my older youngster’s kindergarten classroom at his elementary faculty in Green Hills, a mile from our home, the picture of him at his desk, the sounds of gunshots jarring him.

“It’s at a Christian school.”

I breathed nearly a breath of reduction, understanding my son was protected at his public faculty. But my thoughts went to the Christian faculty lower than a mile from our home, and I attempted to assume if we all know any households whose kids go there. Then, I remembered that my spouse and daughter have been on a stroll in our neighborhood. Were they protected? What sort of capturing? Were the kids protected?

“It’s the Covenant School,” he instructed me.

I walked out of my workplace, down the corridor, although I wasn’t positive why or the place I used to be going. The Covenant School. Just a number of miles from our home. It hit me: Two of our closest mates’ daughters go there. I considered these two ladies and wished to rush to them.

I texted their dad, my good friend, however I didn’t know if he knew but, so I didn’t need to panic him in a textual content out of the blue. What ought to I say to examine in however not to panic? So I typed, “Everything okay?” and despatched the message.

A colleague got here to thoughts, who’s an Elder at Covenant Presbyterian, the Church that the faculty is a part of. I didn’t know if he knew but. I walked to the workplace suite throughout from mine and regarded in his workplace door. He wasn’t in.

I went to the elevator to get to the parking storage. I had to get to my automotive. I used to be in a panic. I had to examine on my mates’ daughters. That’s all my physique knew, like a reflex. I used to be shaking. I had to get to these ladies, who’re like household to me. Those infants, I simply stored considering. I had to get to them.

My good friend texted again a couple of minutes later—an image of their kindergartner, protected. She was in a parking zone. That a lot I might inform. I assumed he was along with her, although I discovered later, he wasn’t. It was an image somebody despatched to another person, who despatched it to him. That’s how info was flowing in these moments of panic. Another good friend texted to go to Woodmont Baptist Church. That’s the place the households had been instructed to converge.

I spent hours that Monday in the sanctuary at Woodmont Baptist Church with tons of of fogeys ready for phrase on their kids.

Our mates’ youthful lady wasn’t at school that day. The spouse’s brother and I acquired to Woodmont Baptist earlier than my mates did. I used to be with them once they have been reunited with their daughter hours later. I used to be a minister at their marriage ceremony, helped them get collectively as a pair, the husband was a groomsman in our marriage ceremony, and I held that child lady, who was in a kindergarten classroom throughout the capturing, in my arms in the hospital room the day she was born. I hugged her tougher that Monday than I ever have, simply after her mother and father and uncle.

In the hours of ready, I used to be with my mates, with ministers from our church, and one other household from our church, who have been ready for phrase on their kids. That household acquired information about two of their three being protected early. We have been ready so lengthy for phrase on their center youngster that we have been all very scared. Finally, they heard she was okay—it had been her class that had been hit the worst, thus the time lag for info.

And then, there was the Dieckhaus household: Mike, Katy, Eleanor, and the youngster who at the time was at Vanderbilt Hospital, Evelyn. One of the ministers from our church was with them as the medical doctors delivered the information that they couldn’t save her.

What fantastic world? Where? Not right here. Not in Nashville. Not in the U.S., the place our elected officers are cowards, beholden to the blood cash of the gun foyer.

What will we do in a rustic the place easy accessibility to weapons of demise takes priority over the lives of our kids? What do these of us in Tennessee do, when our supermajority legislature makes an attempt to silence the voices of two younger Black American lawmakers, Representative Justin Jones and Representative Justin Pearson, who, with their colleague Gloria Johnson, dared to communicate up towards the madness of “business as usual”?

The checklist of college shootings in the U.S. is simply too lengthy for many of us to keep in mind. We’re the solely nation in the world the place this form of preventable tragedy occurs repeatedly and once more. This time, the faculty capturing was in my facet of city. Perhaps subsequent time, will probably be in yours.

Two weeks later, we’re all nonetheless shaken in Nashville. All the colleges had lockdowns and lockouts for hours. Our kindergartner might inform one thing had occurred, and he has been very into hugs and snuggles these final two weeks. Even although he didn’t know any of the specifics for days, you might inform he felt shockwaves of trauma through the adults throughout him.

Waiting in a church sanctuary with tons of of fogeys to discover out if their kids are alive was the closest factor to hell I’ve ever witnessed. For American mother and father, ready for actual change from our flesh pressers is its personal sort of hell that we’re all caught in.

How will we reply in the hell of this ready? What fantastic world, I’m wondering?

When Louis Armstrong was requested how he might sing such a tune in a nation stuffed with racial strife and unrest, he responded: “Seems to me, it ain’t the world that’s so bad but what we’re doin’ to it. And all I’m saying is, see, what a wonderful world it would be if only we’d give it a chance. Love, baby, love.”

Sounds easy—and but. We discover ourselves in a nation with a scarcity of creativeness for a way to form a greater tomorrow for our kids, with a scarcity of empathy, the place communities of colour have been wounded by the violence of our tradition for much longer than these in additional prosperous neighborhoods. But the drawback belongs to us all. The kids are all our infants.

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