Throughout the weekend, my thoughts kept returning to something Stanley Hauerwas wrote after September 11, 2001. He said that the horror of that day “requires a kind of silence.”
We desperately want to “explain” what happened. Explanation domesticates terror, making it part of “our” world. I believe attempts to explain must be resisted. Rather, we should learn to wait before what we know not, hoping to gain time and space sufficient to learn how to speak without lying.
Edward Blum strikes a similar note, reflecting on responses to the death of his young son:
Reverend Walton’s text message to me after my son’s death is the only one I have kept: it reads simply, “sigh.” He knew as a father and as a brother that this was not the time to counsel.
It’s impossible to know how to respond to what happened in Newtown, CT. Desires to explain, to blame, or to speak in other ways can be overwhelming.
Silence, however, may be the best course for now. Not the silence of resignation or inaction, but the kind that creates space to know how to speak.