CHARDON, Ohio - The day of and the day after the shooting in Chardon, I stood in the center of the small and picturesque community nestled about a 35-minute drive from Cleveland and watched people quietly walk to the gazebo.
On Wednesday, as people had done for the past year, visitors to the gazebo continued their pilgrimages.
Although the grief over the killings of three students and the wounding of three others from a year ago still hits with a heavy hand, there are signs of healing at Chardon Square and throughout the community.
Chardon is stretching itself, searching for healing. High school students walked from the school to the gazebo, which has become a memorial and a gathering place, a year after the violence that has troubled this community.
Chardon is not alone in its pain and its search for healing. As that community searches for its footing again, so, too, do the rest of us. In recent years, gun violence has shown itself in the most innocent of places: our schools. I will leave it to experts better qualified than I to explain why such violence has taken place. But what I do know is we are all searching for healing.
No matter where we live, together, we have become citizens of Chardon. And of Newtown, Conn.; Aurora, Colo.; Virginia Tech and Columbine. And wherever else violence has taken life, especially when children were its victims.
Someone once wrote, "Time is the longest distance between two places." If it could talk, the large clock in the Chardon Square could speak to that. It is the same clock a year ago that gazed on the community as its citizens gathered at beneath the sweeping hands of the timepiece. On Wednesday, the same clock, which has counted the 365 days, looked upon the crowd.
The people came to express their feelings for the lives lost, but also to express their love of life and their yearnings.
However, we are ALL beneath the sweeping hands of the Chardon clock. We are ALL citizens of that community, reaching out to hold the hands of others as we look for healing.
There is another old saying that "Time heals all wounds." Although the trouble is still fresh in our memories, I do believe time will help us in the healing process. In the last year in the community, there has been much talk of helping others. That is an important step in healing any wound.
There is a tree outside the Chardon High School with its trunk and limbs wrapped in the high school colors of red and black. The branches and limbs seem to be reaching skyward as if in prayer. There are prayers throughout the community and throughout the citizenry of Chardon, which reach beyond that community's municipal boundaries.
No matter where we live as individuals, Chardon is in our hearts. The grief witnessed by that community has rippled outward, touching so many of our lives. So we walk together, just as the students did when they left the high school and marched quietly to the square.