It dawned on me yesterday exactly how many times I've been working and touched by tragedy in the last several years.
As I sit here in the lobby of my old Starbucks and tap away, I clearly remember working the night of the shootings at Clackamas Town Center, and speaking with customers as they drove by the window in tears. I was at work shortly after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, and remember the chilled atmosphere amongst the customers.
Six months ago, a student at one of the high schools I covered was killed during the school day as she drove home from the local community college. I watched the students react in heartbreak over twitter throughout the day, and was part of the team covering the candlelight vigil that night.
I was on my way to the office on Oct. 10 when I learned about the shootings at Umpqua Community College — just 75 miles from where I live.
It's really hard to pretend that sports matter on those days.
Another day on which it's difficult to pretend like sports really matter. Today, we are all Parisians. #NotAfraid— John William Howard (@JowardHoward) November 14, 2015
When Kerrigan Clark was killed, I struggled to return to work. When the students in Roseburg were murdered, I sat in a daze at my desk and listened to the chaos in the newsroom as we bent under the weight of what had happened a short distance away.
The town of Roseburg is still humbling to drive through. There are a handful of billboards along I-5, two of which carry Umpqua-related signs. One carries has large white letters on a black background, bearing the message, "UCC STRONG; we will prevail together."
It's hard to process all of this. The recent murders around the world (and that includes Beirut, in Syria, in Iraq...) are a powerful reminder as to who holds the title of prince on this hell-bent rock.
As often as I've been reminded of what matters in sports — the relationships, brotherhood, learning and growing, the emotion — I've also been drawn to do work that really matters. And not to waste time on things that aren't important.
My heart doesn't break for this lost world often enough. Asking the Lord to open my eyes to how much the earth needs redemption is a terrifying request, but if that's what it takes to motivate me out of my meaningless rut... so be it.