A Prayer for Chardon High School

On Monday, February 27, 2012, “a student opened fire with a handgun in the cafeteria of an Ohio high school east of Cleveland”—Chardon High School.¹ As of the latest reports, two students were killed and several others wounded. Russell King Jr. and Daniel Parmertor are the names of the students killed. The motive for the shooting remains a mystery, but some have commented that the suspected shooter may have been bullied, though not necessarily by the victims.² Unbound asks that you pray for Chardon High School, for the Chardon community, for the teachers and students, for the victims and their families, and for the shooter (who is also a victim) and his family. This was no isolated incident; this tragedy is endemic of the violence, intimidation, isolation, and pressure (economic, familial, personal) that have become defining features of the lives of our youth. Pray not just that no such shooting ever occur again; pray that no young person ever has cause again to consider committing violence against others—or themselves.

— Rev. Patrick David Heery, Unbound Managing Editor

A Prayer for Chardon High School

By Emily Morgan, a seminary student

Oh, God, not another one…
More teenage lives shattered by violence.
Two dead.
More hurt, “critical condition” they say.
Whatever that means.
And one life shattered by being violent.
You can hear the echoes of pain in the news reports—
how there were signs, warnings, unheeded.
But honestly, there’s nothing that can be said to change what has happened.
Nothing to be said to the grievers but “I’m so sorry.”

Nothing to say to God…

How many, God?
How many schools
How many students
How many teachers
How many shooters
How many more, God?

And there are so many more whose lives are broken
who don’t make the news.
Lives broken by violence, addiction, poverty, abuse…
Lives stolen. Potential lost. Thousands left behind.

Preventing it happening again?
People talk about solving the symptoms–
ignoring underlying issues.
While the Congress bickers about birth control,
our teens are killing each other.
While denominations parse and debate confessions,
our teens are killing each other.
While this country boasts itself as the greatest country on earth,

Oh, God, have mercy on us—all of us.
I can see in my mind’s eye parents weeping for their sons’ lives cut short—
The victim’s parents and the shooter’s parents.
Oh, God, have mercy on us—all of us.
I can see in my mind’s eye schools on lockdown—
Chardon High School and high school running drills tomorrow morning.
Oh, God, have mercy on us—all of us.
I can see in my mind’s eye pastors preaching on this—
One saying empty words of blame and one saying God is still with us.
Oh, God, have mercy on us—all of us.

For Chardon High School,
for the students, for the teachers, for the staff,
for the parents, for the friends, for the community—
God show your presence to them, how you are there in the midst of this tragedy.
Keep outsiders from saying stupid things to the mourners.
Because there is nothing to say, except…
“I’m so sorry.”

[1] The Vancouver Sun, Feb. 27, 2012, Kim Palmer.

[2] Reuters, Feb. 28, 2012, Kim Palmer.

photo of emily morgan
Emily Mor­gan is a stu­dent at Prince­ton The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary and a Can­di­date for Ordi­na­tion in the Pres­by­ter­ian Church (U.S.A.). She grad­u­ated with a BA in His­tory in 2009 from Drury Uni­ver­sity and plans to pur­sue con­gre­ga­tional and col­lege min­istry. She also recently started a web­site designed to ponder faith issues and get young adults and others think­ing about issues in the 21st Cen­tury and how they relate to spir­i­tu­al­ity and reli­gion. Read more at www.fightthebees.com, where this prayer can also be found.
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