This morning my family and I went to church. It’s been a few months, and for that I feel badly. I don’t feel badly because I think I will go to hell if I don’t attend mass. I feel badly because I usually feel better after having gone. There’s something comforting and healing in going to mass. Especially where I go. The priest who says our mass is a Franciscan, and he’s just so full of joy and life. And the music is good. And I see people I know and like.
I’ve been saying I’ve wanted to go for months, but something always gets in the way. Today, maybe because it’s Advent. Maybe because my youngest is preparing for her First Communion. Maybe because subconciously I needed some healing after Friday’s events. Whatever it was, we finally went.
We got there before mass started, and rather than feel comforted, I suddenly started to feel worried. Worried about someone bursting through the back doors of the church and opening fire on everyone. Worried there could be bullets flying and bodies hit and people panicking.
I was seriously distracted by these thoughts until the singing started. Until I saw Father Chris walking up the aisle. Until I saw his beaming face and watched my husband and children singing. Then, somehow, I calmed down.
What I wonder now is – “Is this the new normal?”
Is this how I’m going to feel whenever I’m in a crowd?
Is this how I’m going to feel when I’m in a large public place?
Is this how I’m going to feel when I’m at the mall? Or the movies?
Is this how I’m going to feel every time I drop the kids off at school? Or in town? Or at a friend’s house?
People keep saying “Don’t live in fear.” “Don’t let one instance run your life.”
It’s more than one incident. In fact, yesterday there was a shooting only an hour from here.
And in Portland, there was a shooting at a mall.
I could do more searching for recent shootings, but you get the idea. You’re on the internet. You hear news. It’s no surprise to anyone that shootings have gotten more frequent.
I hate this feeling. I hate feeling helpless. It reminds me of how I felt after 9/11. I worried about being in a public venue. About flying. About sports events. About Disneyland. About airports and train stations. About parks.
Am I the only one going through this? Is anyone else out there having (mostly) irrational fears in the wake of these shootings? Please tell me I’m not alone!