What good can we make of this?

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When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, almost forty years ago, the doctors told her she had only six months to live.  She told them she wasn’t done yet.

Every six months or so, for the next fourteen years, the doctors told my mother her time was short. Every time she gave a reason why she couldn’t go just yet.

At the end, we removed the life support and gathered up my mother’s belongings. We collected the airline tickets she had in her purse for an upcoming trip.  She died in the middle of a book.

With her cancer, her health problems and all the challenges of life, mom always focused on the future.  Whatever the situation, she asked her mantra-like question: “What good can we make of this?”

To make good of her cancer, she kept a diary.  She was one of the earliest recipients of chemotherapy, and most of the time it was simply awful. Her energy drained away. She had bad days and awful days.

She kept a record of all of it in her diary.  When she died, she bequeathed the diary to her physician.

I’ve thought about mom and her question a lot this week when a single madman snuffed out the lives and the promise of thirty-two people.  What good can we make of this?

I’ve watched the politicians scramble to find advantage for themselves.  I’ve watched the zealots pick and choose the parts of the incident that supports their belief.  And I keep asking, “What good can we make of this?

I’ve watched the pundits speculate. I’ve watched news organizations run the same ugly, venomous images and diatribe over and over. And I keep asking, “What good can we make of this?”

I’ve watched the officials explain and the families and university grieve.  And I keep asking, “What good can we make of this?”

Soon the cameras and microphones will go away.  All the people touched by this massacre will still need support and care.  If you know one of them, use your caring to make good of this.

Look for the lessons for your own life.  Tell the people you love that you love them. Hug them. In a dangerous world like this one, every hug may be the last hug.

And ask and ask and ask until you have an answer: “What good can we make of this?

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