A Word from the Keeper of the Dead

One of my roles in our coven is that I’m the Keeper of the Dead, though it’s not one of my official duties as a high priest and teacher. Rather, it came about because I was the one who created the Samhain spreadsheet to keep track of our Beloved Dead from one year to the next.

After yet another school shooting here in the US (this time at an elementary school), I began to think I should start adding entries to the Samhain list for the victims of mass shootings. With the Samhain being at the end of October, I’d need to know about all mass shootings from November of the previous year to October of the current year. I turned to Wikipedia for data. What I found was more horrifying than I had remembered from news reports.

According to Wikipedia, there were 696 mass shootings in 2021 with 702 people killed and 2,823 people wounded. From January to April 2022, there have been 250 mass shootings with 296 people killed and 1,019 people wounded. We’re not even halfway through the year yet.

And these are only the statistics for mass shootings. Mass shootings are defined as having 4 or more victims including killed and injured. These statistics don’t cover the shootings with less than four victims.

And I will not say casualties. I refuse to sanitize this. These were people who were killed or wounded. Even the survivors will be forever changed by these atrocities.

There seems so little I as a single person in the US can do about these things. Things seem so hopeless in this country right now. I know I’m not alone and I’m not expected to solve these things on my own. But if my grief is this intense, what must it be like for the survivors and the loved ones of the victims? I cannot begin to imagine what that must be like.

During my failed attempt at seminary, I remember learning that any good sermon must have good news at its core. This is not a sermon. I don’t have good news to share and I don’t see a way to put a positive spin on this. Yes, I can encourage people to be politically engaged and try to get their representatives to do something real about the public health crisis that these seemingly endless shootings are. But I’m running out of faith that anything real will ever be done.

I have no answers, only questions.

And that terrifies me.

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