the colors of mercy
As you might imagine, on any given day on this campus, an awful lot of people are wearing burnt orange. They make burnt orange everything - t-shirts, sweatpants, flip flops, visors, shorts, whatever. And the businesses that sell burnt orange stuff are clearly doing bang-up business.
What you don't generally see around here is people wearing maroon. We're not in the habit of wearing the colors of that cow college to the east. Ever.
Today, though, burnt orange and maroon are mingled out of respect for those who died at Virginia Tech. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of students are wearing burnt orange shirts and maroon baseball caps, orange tank tops under maroon sundresses, Virginia Tech t-shirts. Girls showed up to section with maroon ribbons over their hearts. At 11, the bells on the Tower tolled, one after another, over and over again, reminding us of what was lost.
It is hard to overstate what an impact these events have had on the students, faculty, and staff at our large state university. It's not just the constant stream of emails from the university and the department about security procedures and what to do if you notice a student who's behaving strangely, and notices about the on-campus security threats (2 in the last 2 days). It's more than that. We all see our own lives reflected in the lives of students at another big state school - be it the freshman French major or the RA in a huge dormitory, the brilliant young professor, or the graduate student on the way to meet with an advisor. We all sense how easily something like that could happen here (I mean, it did happen here.). We all sense how fragile life really is. We don't understand what they're going through, and, yet, we somehow know what it must be like.
So today we wear maroon with our burnt orange. May those who died in Blacksburg this week rest in peace. May their families know the comfort of a God who knows what it is to suffer. May the family of this troubled young man find that same God's comfort in the faces of neighbors, friends, and perfect strangers who try to pray for their enemies and love those who hate them. May we live our lives with a sense of worry-free urgency, knowing that our days are numbered, but that the God we serve is one of boundless love. Amen.