Planning my life after Sandy Hook

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

I've quoted her before (here and here), Mary Oliver, and this piercing question because it's one that I ask myself often. It begs me for an answer, daily.

Some of the things I plan to do with my one wild and precious life are things I can put to paper and check off with grateful- and hopefully humble- satisfaction.

Graduate from college.
Get married.
Go to seminary.
Buy a home.
Adopt a child.


But many of the plans I have are somewhat elusive.

Love God.
Love others. 
Stay true to my convictions.
Appreciate beauty.
Add to the beauty.
Be inspired.

Check? Uncheck? Half check? 

Depends on the day.  Maybe I sat raptured by the beauty of a poem of song today. "Appreciate beauty." Done.  But then I threw out a yogurt container instead of rinsing and recycling. "Add to the beauty." Definitely not.  And I repent for a small stain on the earth which I could have prevented, but in laziness, did not.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? 

Big plans and little plans. Some met. Some not yet. Others... sort of.

And then while I think about the big stuff I've done like our adoption and the even bigger stuff that looms ahead like raising a child and the small stuff like recycling and the medium stuff like tending a garden, a story breaks on the evening news and my questions just get bigger.

Twenty-six people killed at an elementary school. Six adults and twenty children.

We're all weeping over the tragedy, aren't we? Some of us are thinking about our children who are 6 or 7 years old like the ones killed.  Some of us are thinking about the schools we teach in and what if it was us?  Some of us are thinking about mental illness and maybe the ones we know who are also ill and wondering how illness and culpability interact. 

We're all thinking about different parts. I'm thinking about one of the teachers- Victoria Soto- who hid her students in the closets and told the gunman they were in the gym.  She was shot and died after that.  She protected her students with her own life.

I suppose the natural question to ask after a story like that is would I do the same thing? But honestly that's not the question I'm asking. I'm asking a slightly different question.  Not "would I" but "am I?"

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? 

Victoria Soto was forced to answer that question in an instant. She answered well. Perhaps, perfectly.

Lord willing, I have hundreds of instants- thousands of moments- ahead of me in which to answer that question for myself.

What I'm getting at is this: The way Victoria died for those children... how do I live like while I'm living? 

In the moment of her death, Victoria embodied the exact way I want to spend my one wild and precious life.  She was bold. She was selfless. She was courageous.  She was a protector. She stood up for what was right. She was generous and gave the ultimate sacrifice.  She saved the lives of precious children.  She was an inspiration. In that moment, she modeled the sacrificial love of Christ.

It took her only




to spend her life exactly how I want to spend mine.

I don't know anything about Victoria besides this story but tonight I think about her and I breathe deeply, sorrowed by her death but inspired by the last moments of her life.

Tonight, we are all planning our lives after Sandy Hook. Let me suggest that the best way we can honor the lives of those six adults and twenty precious children is to ask ourselves anew the question:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?


  1. Lovely, lovely post. Thank you for writing it.

  2. Oh wow. I needed this post. perfect timing!

  3. Wow! Just wow! I could hardly finish reading this, I have never before been so personally affected by a tragedy like this one. There are so many lives being lived - children of God that are searching for a light, a light that shines in me (in us). How can this question be answered by me? It's this- let me shine o Lord so that all your children will shine with your great, never ending and abundant love and that the peace you give is felt by all those that have lost, are loosing or are lost in this world of darkness. Let us shine so your light is what is seen, felt and worshiped by all!


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