Counselors, staff and service receivers gathered Tuesday morning to remember the children and adults who were killed Friday by a lone gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
CEO Dr. Luke Queen said a small garden will memorialize people who received services and staff who served them in the years since Life Bridges began in 1973. The hallowed ground already holds the buried cremains of Sherry Virena McCullouch and Louise Cogburn on the site.
“Louise was a sweet lady,” Queen said. “No one claimed her body when she died.”
The nonprofit organization at 764 Old Chattanooga Pike helps individuals and families from Southeast Tennessee with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“The first thing this memorial garden will ever be used for is the victims in Connecticut,” he said as he invited those in attendance to place stuffed animals on the ground. The shrine will remain perhaps through Christmas Day. The public is invited to add to it.
He said, “There is something about this event that broke our hearts at a level that I just cannot explain.”
Dr. Corky Alexander said during the invocation to the simple, informal service that “in times like this, talk is not all that helpful, but speaking to You (God) is always a positive force in our lives.”
Alexander said a man named Job who lived in Biblical times must have felt much the same as people now have felt since the killing of the innocent children in Newtown last week.
Job was angry his friends believed he did something to cause misfortune to befall him and bade his friend Zophar to listen.
“After I have spoken, you may resume mocking me,” Alexander read from Chapter 21.
Job said his complaint was with God, not with people, but still, he shuddered at the thought of questioning why the wicked prosper and grow old and powerful. Their children grow up and settle down, and they enjoy their grandchildren. Their homes are safe from every fear, and God does not punish them. … They spend their days in prosperity, then go down to the grave in peace.
“And yet they say to God, ‘Go away. We want no part of you and your ways. Who is the Almighty, and why should we obey him? What good will it do us to pray?’ “(They think their prosperity is of their own doing, but I will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking.) Yet the light of the wicked never seems to be extinguished. Do they ever have trouble? Does God distribute sorrows to them in anger? Are they driven before the wind like straw? Are they carried away by the storm like chaff? Not at all!” Alexander said as he read from the Scriptures.
When he finished, he said in conclusion, “I think that really expresses the feelings of the nation today and the way we feel about this situation today.
“Of course, the Good News of the Gospel is that God still has the last word,” he said. “The wheels of God’s justice turn very, very slow, but they do turn.”
He reminded staff and counselors that heaven only knows how many tragedies they have prevented every day by keeping people from snapping.
“There’s no telling how much violence you’ve stopped because of your hard work as care workers,” he said.