“The Lord is near to the broken-hearted…” Psalm 34:18.
I am heartbroken by the tragic events that took place yesterday at Episcopal School of Jacksonville. I, along with all of you, was shocked and saddened to hear that Dale Regan, head of school and loved by many in Northeast Florida and beyond, was fatally shot by a friend of ours, Shane Schumerth, who then took his own life. I have been torn and speechless since hearing about this tragedy. My heart and prayers go out to the Regan and the Schumerth families. Knowing that Shane was known and loved by many in the ACCESS218/Forward and CCW Communities, I wanted to post some thoughts in an effort to help all of us grieve what has happened. I am still trying to find the words myself, so please receive the following in that spirit.
First, I will admit that I have very few answers in times like these. All I know at this moment is that our God is a God of love who grieves and mourns with all of us. I know that in Jesus, all things will work out for good. I know that God can be trusted and times like these bring us to our knees. Times like these remind us that we never know if tomorrow is promised to us. My encouragement is for all to reach out to the One who is eternal and full of mercy. Only in Him will our lives, in good times or in times of sorrow, ever make sense.
I was comforted by the words of an Episcopal teacher at St. Mark’s Episcopal’s prayer service last night. She said something like this: “Dale would not have wanted it any other way — let us be thankful that not a single student was harmed — Dale would want us to continue her legacy of nurturing young Christian leaders.” Again, this is not an exact quote, but it speaks to the character of this great woman. I did not have the pleasure of knowing Dale personally, but I know that Mrs. Regan is now safe in the arms of Jesus…in a place where she can see all things with complete clarity. As we mourn her loss, let us also celebrate her entrance into eternity — now she can live forever.
Finally, and I struggle with this paragraph, I will miss Shane terribly. I wish he had talked to someone and opened up to one of us. I think we can all say that while we did not know him as deeply as we would have liked, we all knew him well enough to be shocked that he felt it had to come to this. I have felt so many emotions in the last 24 hours. I am moved with compassion to think that he was struggling so much, but also feeling angry that this is what he chose to do. This is a part of the complex grieving process and I hope you will all be honest with yourselves, with God in prayer and with each other in how you are feeling about all of this. While there’s much that we won’t know this side of eternity, what I do know is that I can trust Shane to the God of all mercy and justice, more than I can trust my own thoughts and emotions right now. Ultimately, it is Jesus, our ever-loving and righteous Savior who judges all people — and He has proven that He can be trusted, especially in times like these.
As with everything that happens in our lives, this situation is an invitation to draw close to Jesus. He knows pain and suffering better than any of us, and He knows how to lead us through it. Let the hurt, anger, confusion and despair that you are feeling lead you to Him, not from Him. We may not get any answers, but we know that in and because of Him all things will one day be made new. This is our great hope — let’s hold on to it like never before.
If you need to talk, I am here. Drop me a message via text, fb message or direct message on twitter. I am praying for you all.
In Jacksonville, as it is in Heaven.