Are You Safe?

safe-place_transpngI remember a time when I was a little girl and I heard on the news about a crazy person going into a restaurant and opening gunfire on innocent customers. He killed at least a dozen. There were no pictures, no live coverage; I just recall imagining the victims and what it all looked like. One minute you’re waiting on your hamburger and the next, you’re staring at the end of the gun barrel and a deranged set of eyes. The whole thing freaked me out so much that I told my mother I wanted to go through the take-out window every time we went out. The incident had created a phobia that spanned a few months of my life, robbing me of a normal childhood. Thoughts about insane people plagued me wherever I went. Slowly, the memory faded and I became trusting again.

I took my daughter shopping a few weeks ago and we were in the dog food section of Target. I was lugging this 40 pound bag of chow into my cart, when I glanced at a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt, three brands down. He seemed to be reading the label on one of them. No big deal, I thought, and proceeded to the bedding department. I had my hand on a set of sheets when I saw the same guy across the aisle, touching a shirt on the display rack. I quickly looked for his cart, but there was none. I immediately thought, who goes to the dog food section, handle the bags and not have a cart to put it in? I quickly took my daughter by the arm and puffed out my chest like a messed-with momma bear. “Come one step closer and I’ll punch your lights out, mister,” I shouted inside my brain.

Then I saw it, and stopped dead in my tracks.

The heart that once fluttered like a undefeated boxer in my chest had turned into a panting panther, racing to find shelter. He was wearing a side arm. Yep, it was a gun, alright. And, with that knowledge to my little, over-processing brain, I grabbed my daughter and cart and flew down the aisle and hid at the end of it, waiting for him to leave.

In light of what just happened in Charleston, the city I just returned from last Saturday, I have to ask you, are we safe anywhere? People can’t even go to their church and worship in safety. I would figure if I knew one of them, I would worry possibly about their car ride over to the church, would they be hit by another driver, or maybe even be concerned they might get mugged a few streets down from it; but IN the church? DURING service? By one of the people you shared seating space with? Looked at, talked to, and probably welcomed them to the study?

What is this world coming to? Are we safe anywhere?