Like a strange rush of cold air in the night that leaves your skin prickling, evil’s shadow falls across the intersection where we stop at a red traffic signal.
Except this is broad daylight, a brilliant golden fall morning, October 31.
Just across the street, police cars swarm, lights flashing. Like angry ants, more and more emergency vehicles converge. A policeman swoops into the intersection and throws down cones, blocking it off, and directs a firetruck right in front of us.
The events unfold so rapidly, our brains struggle to keep pace. The light turns green. The officer grimly orders us to U-turn, which was actually our original intention.
As we complete our turn, I ask our son, “Are you sure we should drop you off?” It is about 9:07, and he is late for baseball practice.
“Mom, I go to Palmer. This is normal.”
The original high school of Colorado Springs, Palmer sprawls downtown and often goes on lock-down for nearby urban issues.
He hops out of the car with his baseball bag, and we pull away. At the next intersection, another police car swings into position and cordons off our progress. We turn, and a few seconds later, our son calls and says apparently practice is cancelled because no one is there. We park and tell him he will need to walk out to meet us; we can no longer navigate the streets to reach him.
Little do we know, just minutes before we reached the first intersection, bullets flew as police officers gunned down an armed shooter. Nor do we know the gunman walked down the street opposite the baseball field, killing his second and third victims, around the time practice would have started, had it been held that day, at about the time we would have been dropping off our son, had we been on time.
Like a cloud that shrouds a setting sun and sends a shiver of impending darkness, I am left cold and bereft.
How can this happen in my city? How can this happen in the part of town where my kids walk every day for school and practice? How can this happen again in America?
It seems there is a sickness in our land, a desperation stalking our souls, an enemy on the prowl. Like a stealthy lion singling out its prey, it identifies and isolates the vulnerable among us. It’s intent is as ancient as the universe, though, and succinctly stated: “to kill, steal, and destroy.” (John 10:10a) As it wanders our creaking planet, it stamps angry footprints in our schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, even churches.
The advantage is this: I see clearly the delineation of good and evil. It’s as though evil played its hand, as though it posted a billboard declaring its intentions.
It’s as though good sent out a distress flare, warning us of the battle that rages for each of our hearts.
There is One who says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b)
Evil came to my town. It violently announced: “This is war. Life and death, the stakes are high. Choose your side.”