As we enter the city from the airport it immediately caught my attention. There, in big bold letters on a large bank’s electronic reader board was the phrase #FreemanStrong. A wave of emotions – surprise, pain, pride – came crashing over me.
As I shared on Facebook and again at ECMN Convention, there was a shooting at Freeman High School – the school where our children once attended and where I help coach girls basketball. On varying levels, I know all those involved. Caleb, the young man who brought guns to school, Sam, who he killed, and Jordyn, Gracie and Emma who were wounded. Jordyn and Gracie I have had the privilege of coaching, and are young women who I spent a great deal of time with just this past summer.
Freeman is a small school district where the vast majority of the students, not unlike many of their parents and even grandparents, attend kindergarten through high school graduation. It is a close knit family-like community that sits amidst the wheat fields and the pine trees, twenty miles outside of Spokane. And yet as I drove through the city of Spokane, it seemed reader-boards everywhere, from stores to hotels, small businesses and even “rival” schools, all displayed the words #FreemanStrong.
This horrific tragedy has unquestionably galvanized not just the Freeman School District, but an incredibly large swath of the population near and far. People’s identification of coming from a certain community or another school was superseded by a stronger bond of humanity into an experience of the Beloved Community.
As witnessed by the devastating mass murder in Las Vegas on Sunday, we have so much work to do to bring healing, to bring forth the Beloved Community, to a hurting, dare I say traumatized world. Our prayers and loving actions are desperately needed.