This week a tragedy hit our community. A young man – a high school senior – lost his life in an automobile accident on the way to school. It appears the rain falling that morning caused him to lose control and hit an electric pole.
School was already in session for the day and the administrators had the heavy responsibility of sharing the news with the student body. I was called along with other pastors and counselors to be present at the school. Once the news was shared, there really wasn’t much left to say. I had a few brief conversations with a handful of students, but nothing that could really touch the shock and sadness they felt.
What I did observe was what happens when there are no words. Students huddled together and talked. Some simply sat and cried. It was unique to watch students support one another. I saw teenage boys, who might usually just give a quick head nod or a “what’s up?” in the hallway, ask each other how they were doing. They offered hugs. Pats on the back. I heard several times, “how are you doing?” and “are you ok?” One student simply walked around with a box of tissues offering them to fellow students.
It is an event that occurs too often in communities everywhere. Young lives are lost and peers are left to sort through their emotions. I was reminded again of what many people call “the ministry of presence.” Words are few, but simply being present begins the process of healing and provides support for those who are grieving.
I appreciated the way the school leadership handled the situation and continue to pray for the family and friends of the young man. Sometimes, in the midst of our hurt, there are no words. But in the midst of pain, God offers comfort and hope.