Supporting SPU After the Shooting

Gosh, so much has happened since my last blog post over a month ago.  Life get's busy running a store front in addition to an online retail site!  On top of simply owning/managing the online and retail sites, a lot has happened in my life in the last month, from amazing highs to difficult lows.  On a high note, our store has been doing incredibly well, even better than we expected which is such an encouragement after already having so much success with our online store mooreaseal.com.  I've been featured in a stunning magazine Trouv√©, got offered a dream opportunity that's a secret for now, we've hosted our first workshop in the store which was tons of fun, plus so much more.

On a heavier note though, my heart has been aching a lot this month for a variety of reasons.  My alma mater Seattle Pacific University went through the trauma of experiencing a shooting on the campus just a week and a half ago.  A few people on our staff are SPU alumni, a few people live really close to the campus, and one of our interns is a student.  Our store is also only a few miles away.  Through the last week and a half, students and staff at SPU have struggling a lot, deep in mourning, and still shaken and in shock.  Student's have had a really hard time seeing how quickly the media moves on from tragedies like this bouncing on to the next subject within just 24 hours, on to whatever celebrity is getting divorced or whatever tantalizing gossip that will make big bucks for news outlets.  Seeing the hashtags #spushooting, #prayforspu, and #falconstrong trending the day of the shooting on Twitter and Facebook was incredibly encouraging for the SPU students and staff.  But those faded away quickly which made a lot of people feel left in the dust in their mourning.  At the same time, for a week and a half, news crews were constantly on campus on every corner.  And I personally found it kind of gross seeing news crews blasting lights on small groups of students praying near the site of the shooting while the reporters talk loudly at the camera about the students sitting right there trying to pray and come together in quiet and peace.  During this time, everyone was experiencing a weird constant tug and pull of feeling ok and then suddenly devastated, craving attention and support and then needing to pull away and retreat.  And now that the school year has ended, many students will head home to try to enjoy the summer, and students in the area will have to move on to focus on their summer jobs and lives until the school year returns in the fall.  The professors, teachers, and counselors also have to make a sudden transition into the school year ending on such a devastating note.  The leaders on campus just poured their hearts out in trying to aid every student in their shock and mourning and they too now need time and space to heal and mourn.  Please have everyone from SPU in your thoughts and prayers.  Something like this goes away quickly in the news, but within a community, it lasts a long time.

Jon Meis, the student who managed to take down the gunman also is asking for privacy and prayers.  He's been getting a huge amount of media attention for his bravery, tons of random people have been starting fundraising sites where you can donate to him and his upcoming wedding.  But he and most everyone from SPU would prefer if you could please donate to him and the victims directly through SPU's fundraising site.  SPU will not be taking any money from it and it will all go directly to the victims.  One young man died in the shooting, a young woman is still recovering after spending some time in critical condition, and another young man is recovering from minor wounds.  SPU has also started a scholarship for engineering students in honor of Jon's bravery and courage, as he was an engineering student.  For that, and many many things during the last 2 weeks, I'm really proud of my alma mater.

I know that the staff at SPU has been giving their ALL to the suffering students on campus.  The staff has been hurting just as much as the students through this experience but they have been devoting themselves to aiding the students before their own needs.  And though SPU is known as a Christian school, you don't have to be Christian to attend.  There are plenty of students of a variety of religions and plenty of students are agnostic and Atheist.  While prayers are SO meaningful for the Christian students, all the other students who are not Christian deserve just as much comfort and encouragement through other means of love and compassion that they recognize as relatable.  So if you know anyone from SPU or connected to SPU, just send them your sincerest love and compassion during this season, being sensitive to who they are and what they believe.  And for those who ask for prayers, give them that gift if that is your mode of giving.

When I was in my second to last year at SPU 6 years ago, one of my dear friends was killed in a biking accident just two days after the school year ended and after I had flown home to California.  I wasn't able to attend his funeral because I was the maid of honor in a wedding the same week as the funeral while I was also working as a camp counselor that summer.  What hurt me the most and left the longest impression on me during this time was that I felt so isolated in my mourning.  At the camp, there was no cell phone reception so I couldn't call my friends to just talk and I didn't know a single person at the camp before I arrived there.  Most of my friends in our friend group were all together in Seattle and they were able to mourn together.  I felt so lost alone and unable to reconcile with this hurt and loss because I had no one to mourn with.  I thankfully gained new and comforting friendships while working at the camp, but in that in between time of not yet knowing people well in the place that I was at, I was just ripped raw with heartache and isolation.  And to this day, the loss of my friend Patrick still feels more heavy than so many others I've lost in death,  I think that has so much to do with the fact that in mourning, I felt abandoned and alone but that was no one's fault, I just couldn't control my mourning experience and where I was while trying to process, or who I was around while mourning.

I say all that to try to convey how important it is that we keep sending love and reaching out as friends to those who have experienced so much trauma and loss from the shooting at SPU.  It only happened a week and a half ago and yet I feel like my life has completely rolled on.  But I want to be present and aware of others who are still suffering in this loss.  If you are a student or faculty member at SPU, I want you to know that the world has not moved on without you.  Your life, your current experiences and how they have shaped you in this moment are with you into the future, and other's love and concern for you doesn't fade just because people aren't talking about it all as much.  You're still in my thoughts and your hurt is still on my heart.  And to those of you who might know an SPU student or faculty member, keep reminding them through the summer that its ok to keep having moments or seasons of mourning and recuperation through the summer.  It's ok to keep processing through the summer, as that need to process will only be brought up again when everyone returns to SPU in the Fall.  Things will get lighter, and your mind will soon begin again to fill with wonderful memories of your time at SPU.  Like this wonderful quote says: "When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that, in truth, you are weeping for that which has been your delight."  - Kahlil Gibran

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