A young man from the local church I attend, whom I will call merely L, threw himself one of those curve balls on Saturday. I've known L for several years, watched him go through his teens, heard reports of how he attended Seminary and was always on top of things. Then he started to slowly fall away from church, though he still associated with other LDS youth. L's father moved overseas, but L still had plenty of family in the area, and many friends. I was able to depend on him last year for help bringing in hay, he was reliable and willing.
Saturday night, L was showing his best friend one of his guns, a gun he thought was not loaded... The rest is life changing, devastating, shattering history. The gun went off, and L's friend was gone forever, and L's life will never be the same.. After several hours investigation, the police released him. Who knows what will happen next? The hours he spent with the police were grueling; they tried repeatedly to bully him into "admitting" that he'd shot his friend on purpose.
As I've pondered this tragedy, I find myself thanking God again and again for my parents and grandparents who pounded into my head the rule, the credo, that you never, ever point a gun at anything you don't intent to shoot. We had guns around all the time when I was a child. There was always a rifle behind the kitchen door at my grandparents' house; my father had several rifles. I learned to shoot and handle guns from the time I could hold them, and if I'd ever even thought of playing with a gun or treating it with less than the respect it deserved, the consequences would have been dire. I can't even imagine someone with guns pointing it at a friend, even with the safety on, even knowing it was unloaded.
And I think of the devastation wrought by that one careless act; one life taken, the other life shattered, the collateral damage beyond reckoning. I want to shake L and scream "What were you thinking!" but I know the answer--he wasn't thinking, he couldn't have been thinking--could he? My heart ache for L, for his family, and for his friend's family.
I'm reminded of the words to a song by Janice Kapp Perry, There is Eternity:
But some heartaches just can never be explained
And no caring words can take away the pain