In the ditches the weeds are purple and yellow, white and maroon. In their seats my students are all very much alive; their hearts pump blood which is contained and hidden under their unbroken skin and flesh. They write an in-class essay today, and none of us is afraid of attack in our back-corner classroom with its big glass wall and single sliding door behind the stacks of bound periodicals.
I assess the room. Our tables afford better shelter than the desks that most classrooms contain, but, really, it would be hard to hide here.
And then there’s Garissa University College, in Kenya, where last week 147 students lost their lives.
With a full teaching load, I have a total of 97 students.
I’ve seen some pictures of Garissa after the fact: bodies on classroom floors. I look at the pictures and picture my own students: one with the plastic bow on the corner of her glasses, and one who wears a visor upside down and backwards every single day; one with earnest blue eyes on the far left, and one with intelligent brown eyes front and center; one who talks constantly but almost always about class content, and one who never speaks but whose silence is a thinking silence.
They’re here in pursuit of their futures — indeed, a banner on campus invites students to “Find Future” at our institution — and the training I do, I assure them, will benefit them not only in their grades now, but also later, in ways they can’t realize now.
But what if there isn’t a later? Would we call all this effort wasted effort? Would we call these wasted lives?
All the days for each of these were written in God’s book before one of them came to be. All their days. However many or however few.
But — and I don’t know quite how to make it align with Garissa, with a baby I know of who died two days ago, with the persecution that continues all across the Middle East and Asia —
Our days are like grass and on earth we are soon forgotten. But our Heavenly Father does not forget us, and His steadfast love to us is great.
In the face of this that I cannot understand, I know this truth, and on the strength of this truth:
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
©2015 by Stacy Nott