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Information on Some of the Other Memorials Dedicated
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(Come See the Daylily)
Text of the News Stories Surrounding William's Murder
and the Trials.
An Extensive List of Links and Information
on Sites Useful to Grieving Teens and Adults
Grief and Family Support
Related To Gun Violence
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Information on the Memorial Scholarship Funds
Links to Other Memorial Sites on the Web. You
May Submit Your Own Memorial Site To Your Loved One Here, As Well
Published and Unpublished Articles Written by Me
Regarding My Own Grief and Sense of Loss.
Talks and Writings
Selected Newsgroup Posts
A "Letter of Demonic Advice" in the style
of C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters
regarding the loss of a child and a short story I'd like to believe could come
Information on our book.
More Resources and Materials for Bereaved Families
The following address was given at the Victim and Witness Services Candlelighting
Service, December 9, 1997.
We are gathered here to remember our loved ones, all of them victims of violent crime.
All of us survivors of violent crime.
Look around you tonight and you will see that we are surrounded by the symbols of our
There is Dark, for the grief which casts a pall over even the brightest days.
Cold, for the bone-chilling loneliness we carry with us every moment.
Ribbons, for remembrance of those who are gone, with all their warmth, charm, love, and
There is Light, for hope for the future taken one small bit at a time, all these small
bits finally adding up to a warm and persistent glow.
And lastly, an Evergreen Tree, for ongoing life, even in the face of winters icy
blasts, raging storms, and long, dark nights, emerging from winter taller, stronger, and
better able to stand for another year.
All these elements of our lives we see manifested here tonight in physical form. We have
these things to hold on to. We are here and we remember. As long as we live, the memories
of those we love will linger here on earth. Pale comfort for their absence, but comfort
none the less. And they are remembered lovingly, tenderly, and with excruciating sorrow.
Many of us must deal with pain beyond our loss, for violent loss is never simple. The
media, the police, and the justice system all complicate our grief even though they are
only trying to do their jobs. Family and friends who share our loss often need our support
as they lend theirs. People who do not want to think on their own mortality become more
distant because we are a constant reminder to them that they share our humanity and our
vulnerability; and that in one instant of carelessness or evil intent, they could also
have their world turned inside-out and upside-down.
One of the things I have unwillingly learned in these past months is that grief changes
things. We will grow through it, we will mature through it, we will learn more about
ourselves and those around us than we ever wanted to know, and we will re-order our
priorities. What was once of vital importance to us is as dull as mud, and what we never
appreciated to the fullest, we find to be more valuable than gold. Yet through it all, we
will survive. We will get stronger, and we will find the answers for ourselves that seem
to work best for us.
We are all shuffling through a long, dark forest together, one tiny step at a time. We
hold the hands of those walking with us, we try to follow the faint footsteps of those who
passed this way before us. Sometimes we stumble and fall, and we are glad that there is
someone there to help us up. They help us get cleaned up and back on our feet, yet at the
same time the process of getting back up simply serves to put us back on our inexorable
Once in a while we see patches of light through the canopy, and we bask in it as if we had
never seen light before, for we do not know how long it will last, nor when we shall come
across the next patch of brightness on the forest floor. We do not know for how many miles
this forest extends. Yet through it all, we survive. It is a long journey, it is a fearful
journey, but I am assured that it is not so dark at our destination as it seems now.
The following are some thoughts written on Christmas Day, 1997
Just some thoughts on the birthday anniversary of Jesus.
People don't think or understand how fatal sin really is. The breaking of the commandments
is one thing, that just affects our life here on earth, superficialities such as the
quality of life if you will. But sin, real sin, the underlying fault of our race and
source of all our misery, has a deeper root. The pride inherent in not loving God. A sense
that we can survive on our own, that we can do it ourselves.
Perhaps not a hatred of God and all that He represents, or even merely a disdain for Him
(though there are many who indeed feel that way); but just an indifference, a sense of
uselessness for what He offers. As if a teenager was offered a baby's rattle as a gift. No
doubt that it once could have brought them joy through its simplicity and delight, but now
they have outgrown it in their own minds, they see no use for it, it holds no promise for
them, no joy and no attraction.
It is not, however, their bodies that have outgrown it, it still fits, one size fits all,
and they are still in need of simple delight and joy. But their minds have become a size
too small for the pretty things. They have limited their imaginations and potential for
joy to complex things. Simple childlike laughter is no longer a part of their imagination,
it is embarrassing, it is un-cool. An insatiable desire for the complexity of life and its
offerings begins to take hold, and the simple pleasures are left behind in a tidal wave of
gadgetry and gimmicks. Odd how they so often need to be replaced, since they are prone to
breaking, and are not at all designed for longevity.
This is how people are with the gift of God's love. It is not that we have gotten too big
for it, our hearts have gotten too small and too hard for it. And since we have no use for
Him in the foreseeable future, we disregard the simplicity of the Godly life, and begin to
take hold of the complexity inherent in worldly living. And if faith is simple, religion
becomes more and more complex with every passing day.
What an incredibly shortsighted and thoughtless concept. Have people no understanding of
what a concert violinist goes through before they are allowed to play in public?
Dont they know that only through constantly practicing the basic skills and
techniques of our spiritual lives and keeping Gods face before us at all times will
we ever see the practicality of faith? Dont they see that being asked to put faith
into practice will come all too soon in ones life, and if one isnt ready to
lean on the strength of the Lord, they will buckle under the weight of the burden?
Dont they see how eminently practical faith really is, and how vitally important it
is to exercise it daily lest it atrophy? When one is caught in the whirlpool, it is far
too late to learn to swim.
I think that this is why God insists that we *die* to the world when we accept Him into
our hearts. There is no place in there for both Him and the world, and in fact, for Him to
begin the remodeling process, and increase the size and capacity of our hearts, the
complex concepts and gadgets of the world with all their bright colors, shortened
attention spans, and plastic parts must be thrown out. Our myriad attachments to the
complexities of the world must be cut, not merely disentangled, and we must begin to forge
one single strand connected to Him only.
But, oh the process by which the heart is increased in size, the process by which the
lines of attachment to worldly things are cut. It is surgery, and the only anesthesia is
our fixing our gaze upon His steady and clear image. Bit by bit, the cords are cut and
removed, pulled away from their tenacious grasp on our being. Then, once the attachments
are removed, the heart must be conditioned for its new purpose, as the psalmist says, it
must become "contrite." How many of us know that the word "contrite"
means "pulverized?" Crushed, broken, kneaded into a supple and moldable
substance. No hint of hardness or calcification will do, all must be as soft as refined
clay, or else the pot will show a defect, it will impose its own will on the wheel
(perhaps even scratching the hands that work to shape it, causing them to bleed), and
blemishes will become more and more evident, causing it to be tossed on the scrap heap. No
redemption for these pots in this world, though I believe there will be some consolation
in the next, though they will be far behind those of us who reach the desired level of
pliability here on earth. Pots they will be, though misshapen, and useful for no purpose
whatever as vessels. They will not hold water, nor anything else for that matter, and they
resemble only in a grotesque way the shape that the Potter intended for them.
As we become the pulverized clay which the Potter can use, many things may go into this
pulverization process. Often the very thing we are afraid of, or too attached to, is that
with which we are confronted. At times we are brought to our knees by things we did not
imagine possible in our lives. And yet, it is only earthly and temporal things which we
become too attached to. We have *never* been asked to give up anything that we would not
have to give up on the day of our deaths anyway. The only thing we should never be willing
to relinquish is the thing that God wants us to have in its absolute fullness. A total and
complete love and adoration of Him and a communication with Him unencumbered by earthly
Does this mean that we should all head for the nearest monastery? Certainly not, for if we
did, how should our Lord reach the others who have closed their minds and hearts to Him?
How will He reach the grieving, the sad, the unwilling, the proud? Only by our
infiltration of every part of society can the world be exposed to Gods loving
kindness. Only when we show the Fruits of the Spirit in our lives can others see just how
practical our faith is in our daily lives. Love, mercy, compassion, patience, kindness,
all these and more give hope to the hopeless, because they are Gods attributes,
represented here on earth by none other than these jars of clay which He has thrown on the
wheel and which have willingly molded to the shape He intends. Obedient vessels which
carry living water over the face of the earth by the gentlest touch of His Spirit.
Gradually, we die to ourselves, in order to have the most perfect of all gifts which can
be bestowed Life, in God.
How can one steer a horse without pulling on the bit in its mouth? If the horse and rider
are in accord and in tune with each other, the tug is nothing more than a slight pressure
on the flank or the bridle. To all observers in the stands, the rider remains nearly
motionless while it appears as if the horse is doing all the thinking, though we know that
cannot be, because we know something of the mental capabilities of a horse. If it were
true that the horse itself were doing all the complex patterns on its own motivation, a
miraculous thing would be taking place in front of our very eyes. If, however, the horse
is of his own mind and temperament and is defiant to travel his own way despite any
urging, the attempt to turn him to the path the rider chooses can be a difficult or
impossible struggle indeed (if one respects the wishes of the horse).
I have been sad today. Not a hostile sadness, not a forlorn sadness, but a sadness which
is brought about because of sorrow and grief. But I think that in losing something, I have
also gained more than I ever thought possible. Grief opens the spiritual pores. It returns
us to the path of the living. It makes our reality more real, and our daily decisions more
intense. And it turns us to God. Can one truly pray unceasingly unless they had something
that required constant prayer? Can one even begin to value life if they have never had one
taken from them? Can one truly appreciate walking in the light if they had never
experienced total and complete darkness? I am blessed by God to be given burdens to bear
that seem too great for me, for that means that I must rely on His strength every moment
to remain on my feet.
I have never thought for a moment that God views death the way we do. He cant. His
view is better by far than ours. It is as if we are looking at a complex machine from the
underside, and all we see is the grime, and the grease, and the grit, and all those ugly
moving parts. But from above, God sees the whole of the beauty of the machine. The sleek
lines, the vibrant colors, and the power of the machine which operates under His control.
God does not view death as we do. In fact, it wasnt until Jesus revelation to
us that we as humans even knew that there was an eternity of reward and joy awaiting us.
Such a surprise for the prophets of the Old Testament to die and find out that there was
this delightful secret that they had not yet been let in on. Now, it has been revealed to
us, and we find very quickly how wise God was in holding off on this revelation until
rather recently. The Jews served God because God was to be served, and adored, and
worshipped. The reward was unknown to them at the time. Today, I fear that there are many
who profess to serve God to get the reward, and know little of obedience first.
They are the ones who will be indignant when the workers who come into the vineyard ten
minutes before quitting time get the same reward as they do, and as a result, they will be
dismissed. The parable of the vineyard in Matt. 20:1-16 is one that we hear all too rarely
because I think it goes too strongly against our cultural mindset. It concerns the Owner
of the vineyard paying *everyone* who works in the vineyard that day the same amount,
regardless of how long they are on the job. The ones who have been working, watering,
harvesting all day long receive the same pay as the workers who come into the gate at the
end of the day. The paymaster treats all alike. We all get the same recompense for our
work, which tells us something about the work itself, I think.
First, the work done in the vineyard is a function of actually being in the vineyard to
begin with. No one in the vineyard does not water, plant, and harvest. All are busy, by
virtue of the fact that they are vineyard workers. All are obedient to the instructions
given to them to work, and that is the job they perform. It is intriguing that nothing in
the parable is mentioned about the status of the workers *already* in the vineyard, only
about the pay for those entering to work there. All of them work, and the only requirement
is that they help maintain what is the Owners.
Second, the work is secondary to the actual entering into the vineyard itself. If it is
assumed that you will work as best as you can once you are in the vineyard, the only thing
that matters is that you enter into the gate. Outside you are idle and have no purpose,
once inside, you will be an obedient servant regardless of when you entered. The only
alternative is to be idle all day long. The work in the vineyard provides those who are
idle with purposeful and rewarding activity and the negotiated pay for a days wage
is fair and acceptable to the workers. But, you must enter the vineyard to begin with. No
work directly relating to the Owners property is available outside the gate.
The trick then, is to get into the gate. How do these workers get in? They are invited in
by the Owner. They are the ones standing idle in the marketplace. The Owner of the
vineyard seeks them out, not the other way around. And at the end of the day, when the
last of the workers receives every man the same as the first employed, it is the ones who
have been serving all along that begin to complain and argue that they deserve more than
the last in. The pride and greed of servitude begins to break through and they are
ultimately dismissed. Their hours worked became more important for them than the fact that
they were the Owners vineyard workers. If they truly had a vested interest in the
vineyard itself, the work would be of less priority to them and they would rejoice that
there were others brought in by the Owner to help serve in the vineyard, sharing the
labor, bringing in the harvest, and generally maintaining the upkeep of the Owners
property. The joy is in the company, that more should come under the Owners employ.
So it shall be for all of us. Some have served God all our lives. Some for only a few
years. Still some will only truly come to know and serve Him with their last breath. And
even if their last words are no more than, "I am at peace. I am going to be with
Jesus." That single act of toil will be equally rewarded as those who have spent
years in the sun, sweating and toiling for Gods Kingdom. And we will rejoice in
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