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Reporter’s Notebook: ‘Silence Is Deafening’ After School Shooting

A condolence sign sits in downtown Sandy Hook, Conn., on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012.  (Allen Breed/AP)

A condolence sign sits in downtown Sandy Hook, Conn., on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. (Allen Breed/AP)

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The festive Christmas lights around town seemed a disturbingly odd contradiction in this shattered community. I arrived in Newtown after dark, hours after the unspeakable terror descended on this town. The Christmas lights were on… probably illuminated by automatic timers. Perhaps folks just felt the need to have some semblance of normalcy.

Amid the grief, there seems to be a human desire for routine, but it seems so hard. At the Blue Colony Diner, a 24-hour restaurant in town, a pall enveloped the many people who stopped in for breakfast. They spoke amongst themselves in hushed tones. The sound of silverware on plates was deafening.

A place like this would normally be filled with talk and laughter on a Saturday morning. Not today. “Howyadoin’ ” greetings were answered with sighs. A waitress answered, “Oh, I’ve been better.” Nothing else needed to be said. Another waitress commented to one regular that one of the victims was a customer. She didn’t know her name, but knew her face.

This is a community that is simultaneously questioning its faith, and turning to faith for comfort. At the Trinity Episcopal Church, a parish that lost two children on Friday, Rev. Kathleen Adams-Shepherd told the 200 to 300 people gathered for a vigil Friday night, “God was surrounding those children, those teachers. Whatever happened to them, God was there.”

At churches all around town, handwritten signs out front indicate they are open, and notify passersby when the next prayer vigil will be held. I expect emotions here will come to a head Sunday night, when a town-wide ecumenical service will be held at the Newtown High School.

This is your typical New England town. I’ve heard people use the term “Rockwell painting” many times. The only difference between Newtown and dozens of other small towns that surround Boston, is that most people here root for the Giants and Yankees, not the Patriots and Red Sox.

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  • icekreaman

    no comments?

  • blaze

    There are no words.

    What he did made sense to him. How often does someone do something for no reason. It is important to understand why something that makes sense to one person is beyond conception to another. How did he get there? The scope of what happened and the age of the victims gets our attention, but people everywhere, all the time act out how they are hurt, and people who had nothing to do with the who and what and where get caught in the crossfire. It may be that when we learn to take up what hurts where we were hurt and with whom hurt us, with words, we will have a different world.

    http://www.onbeing.org/program/getting-revenge-and-forgiveness/104

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/books/review/Gilbert-t.html

    …because I believe if we could hear we have made a mistake and say when we have been hurt where we hurt and with whom hurt us we wouldn’t do the other things we do with what hurt us, re-injure ourselves consuming to excess alcohol and food and more stuff than we can manage; go to pieces; or turn and injure someone else, the once victim recasts himself as perpetrator.

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