Today marks a celebration of St. John of the Cross, author of The Dark Night of the Soul.
The last week and a half has been filled with darkness. In fact, it's fair to say the December 2 San Bernardino shooting has consumed my life since it happened.
Many of you know that my office is a half mile from the site of the shooting. Both the Inland Regional Center and Public Health are close partners. I know many Public Health employees and have referred many families to the IRC. Our building was on lockdown, and there were thoughts during the lockdown that county facilities and behavioral health sites were being targeted. The shooters' home is a few blocks from our church. Several people I work closely with lost family and friends. My department is on the front lines of crisis response, and I'm currently managing a large team working with survivors.
While the news overall has been dying down, our work has not slowed. Recovery and healing for our community will continue for weeks, months, years. And in the midst of it, the remaining press has engaged in some disgusting behavior, lying to intrude into people's personal pain and coping.
And yet the light shines.
While there have been responses of fear turned to hate, there have been far more responses of fear turned to love.
People of all walks of life have banded together to build each other up.
Dozens, if not hundreds, of county staff have volunteered to step up and do extra work to help, including 24/7 support, like those amazing people on my team.
Supportive texts, calls, Facebook posts, etc. keep us moving forward and feeling supported.
And don't forget the prayers.
Then there's parts of regular, daily life that shows me God is present and caring for me.
Our healthcare provider gave us a beautiful specialty blanket with our newborn's name embroidered on it. What healthcare provider does that?!
Our primary car (the only one that will fit the carseats) had a leak, so I took it into our shop. It was a problem that we fixed two years ago, but was now out of warranty and was going to cost around $3500 (can't afford this and was close to the cost of the car). A half hour later, the manager called me and said he pulled some strings and got it covered under warranty. No cost. And because I dropped the car off and rode my bike to work, but it was now dark and raining, the manager sent one of his employees to pick me up. I never even considered not riding to the shop. He thought of it and offered.
My toddler is obsessed with trains. We got to have some "normal" time and built a train together at a Lowe's kids clinic. He hasn't stopped talking about how we hammered together and made "our train." He's carrying it everywhere. And then last night, he said, "You're a great friend. You're a great dad."
Yes, God is present here. There is light in the darkness, and it's even more meaningful because of the darkness and will eventually overpower the darkness completely.