L. P. Hoffman wrote this in 2006, not long after the Columbine, CO, shooting. I believe this message is even more appropriate in light of the recent events in Newtown, CT. Read about L. P. Hoffman. Buy L. P. Hoffman books.
What the Village Took by L. P. Hoffman
Silence shrouded the building. It was a surreal and deep silence, hollow and unnerving. Soon, very soon along these sterile corridors, the stillness would be swallowed by the noisy clamor of the day, yet this was to be no ordinary day.
In the shadows, two men stood as tall and motionless as statues. At their feet, shafts of dawning light spilled through open classroom doors to glimmer upon the random tile patterns there.
The men waited. They both appeared powerful, yet agile. Their faces reflected deep and profound sadness.
The taller, older man turned to the younger. “It won’t be long now.” His words conveyed the seriousness of the occasion.
The younger nodded. “May I…?” he spoke with trepidation. “Would it be presumptuous of me to ask?”
His companion smiled faintly, gently then reached out to reassure his friend. “I will show you. Then you will understand.”
Before them, a scroll appeared and came alive with a moving view of a classroom. “All lifestyles are good,” the teacher explained. “Exploring human sexuality is only natural. She spoke of base instinct as if they were pure and clean and mankind as if he were no different than an ape. The teacher mocked God’s laws by calling them outdated and by doing so, cast restraints aside.
The young man turned to the elder. “There is a way that seems right to a man but the end of it is death.” He turned his gaze back to the scroll as it changed to a computer lab. At a desk in the corner, a bored teacher thumbed through a magazine while a cluster of boys feasted their eyes and hearts upon internet pornography. At another computer a few feet away, a loner quickly jotted down a recipe for bombs then clicked off, while two female classmates typed the words “witchcraft” into the search engine and then printed the initiation rites along with incantations.
“Perversion,” the older man whispered as the scene changed again to the High School Auditorium where students gathered to hear an address.
The speaker rose. “We have called an assembled today to talk about abuse. We hope to arm you with the knowledge that will equip you to recognize and stand against abuse wherever you may find it. We hope these tools will not only empower you but also give you the courage to come forward and seek help.
He spoke of the tyranny of control that parents have inflicted on their young. He cited the examples of real and frightening cases then quickly explained that even a parent’s attempt to restrain a teenager by the arm could be considered abuse. “If it feels like abuse, it probably is.”
Nestled among the crowd, a pimply sophomore boy crossed his arms smugly. His thoughts turned to the fight he’d had with his mother that morning. Anger festered and churned beneath his surface. He was fed up with the nagging. “Do your homework. Clean your room!” Their curfew and their rules…. It was more than he could take. The teenager smiled at the possibilities.
The speaker went on to talk about sexual harassment and an excited ripple rolled through the hearts of the scorned and spiteful.
The seeds of rebellion had been planted. A weapon had been forged and placed naively into young and turbulent hands.
“You could be a victim and not even realize it,” the speaker cooed. “If you come to us, we will listen. We will help.”
The older man turned to his companion. “This delusion has spread like a virus. Many innocents have suffered because of false accusations.” For a split second, they could both feel the pain of the wounded—those torn and devastated by a system gone awry. Lives and reputations have been ruined. Parents have been stripped of rights. Children have been snared in a web of endless bureaucracy.
The younger man looked away for a brief moment. It was all too much for his righteous eyes to take in. The air was thick with decay—the stench of bondage and its fruit.
“Will you see more?” the elder asked.
The younger one nodded and turned once more to face the scroll.
In another classroom, a woman spoke of nature and her wonders. “We are all divine,” she explained. “Because divinity is in all creation and we are a part of her. The earth is our mother, a living-breathing organism. She is worthy of all honor.”
A puff of exasperation escaped the younger man lips. “It’s idolatry!”
“Yes. They are teaching the young to serve the creature, rather than the creator.”
The scroll’s scene changed to the principal’s office. “Zero Tolerance,” he said with pride. “We have a Zero Tolerance policy on drugs and violence.”
“The principal has never walked through this place with eyes to see,” the older man explained. “For if he had, he would have seen that tolerance was the very thing being taught in these classrooms. They teach that truth is not absolute and that one person’s reality may be different from another’s. Behind the guise of ‘freedom of education,’ anarchy has replaced order and chaos is exalted. The spirit of lawlessness is already at work in the world.” With that, the scroll rolled up and disappeared.
Overhead, a long florescent bulb flickered on with a hum and then another as synthetic light filled the corridor. “We don’t have long to wait now,” the older man cautioned.
A teacher was the first to arrive. She was a plain looking woman with medium brown hair pulled back with a ribbon. Her clothes were outdated and simple.
“Mrs. Jacobs, we will call her Sarah,” the older man said with a nod in her direction. “She is one of the reasons we have come. This one is a quiet but powerful witness. Sarah is not very popular around here,” he said. “The students make sport of her behind her back and the administration watches her closely. They are worried she may share her beliefs.” He smiled. “But her life has been a witness and there is no rule against that. She has endured suffering and her love has not grown cold. Sarah Jacobs prays for each one by name.”
Soon, other teachers began to trickle in along with early students. In a short time, the hallways echoed with the sounds of slamming lockers and newsy murmurs, though no one seemed to notice the two men who stood among them.
Quietly, the visitors watched as waves of morning activity ebbed and flowed. Then, suddenly, the air grew thick with a mist of darkness. Evil had arrived. At the end of the long hall, a teenage boy stood as if looking for someone. His hair was shaggy, but not to long. A loose strand fell across his sweaty brow. Below, his eyes darted nervously, to and fro. Slowly, deliberately, the young man slid his heavy backpack from his shoulder and unzipped it. His hand sunk deep into its depths and it surfaced again with a gun.
The younger man let out a gasp. “Can we stop this?”
“Mankind has been given free will.” The older man shook his head solemnly. “We cannot interfere.”
As the boy held the shining weapon in his hand, a strange demented smile spread across his thin lips. “Soon they will all know,” he muttered, “just what I think of them. They will all be sorry.”
“And he is right. They will say it wasn’t his fault,” the elder explained. “They will say the boy was the product of his environment, that he had a rough life. His mother worked long hours. His father left when he was young. They will pity the boy, saying he was depressed and knew rejection. They will say that he was a victim too.”
“While all this may be true, don’t they know that this young man, like all the rest, will one day stand accountable before God?” the younger one asked.
A shriek sliced through the morning bustle and banter. “He’s got a gun!” Pandemonium exploded like a cannonball down the corridor and frightened teens scrambled for safety.
This seemed to please the teenage boy. He leveled his pistol and walked forward with icy determination. The first bullet slammed into the wall inches from a young man’s head. He fired again, grazing the arm of a fleeing athlete. Youth scrambled for refuge as fear and panic ricocheted throughout the school.
The gun-totting boy stopped cold. His hollow eyes locked onto a beautiful teenage girl as she cowered behind the shelter of her locker. Jennifer was one of the popular ones who’d never given him the time of day. He raised the weapon and an eternity seemed to pass as his finger slowly squeezed the trigger. Then, just before the explosion, a schoolmate suddenly dove to take the bullet. He fell in a crumpled heap as the terrified girl bolted away to safety.
“This is Benjamin, the other reason we have been called here today.” The elder angel knelt beside the boy as he lay dying. “Benjamin, you have been a shining light in this place for you were not ashamed of the gospel.” He touched the boy with gentle hands and whispered words to blanket him in peace. “Greater love knows no man, than he who lays his life down for another.”
The predator felt charged with power and control as he marched through the school looking for prey. “He would soon be famous,” he told himself. Through narrow radar eyes, he searched for movement, his senses honed by the scent of fear. Then, his march stopped short.
Mrs. Jacobs had stepped into his path. She stood like a sentinel against the boy’s advance “Go no further,” she said. “Kyle, put the gun down.” Inside, Sarah was terrified but she didn’t let it show.
The teenager’s mouth twisted in contempt. “Who’s going to make me?” Slowly, Mrs. Jacobs approached—her hand extended. “Let me have the gun.” The teacher’s firm words conveyed authority and power. Her seasoned eyes betrayed no hint of intimidation.
A tear welled briefly in the boy’s gaze, then as suddenly as it surfaced, it shrank back into darkness. He leveled the gun and fired once more before turning the weapon upon himself.
Deafening silence filled the corridor. All was still but all was not well.
Moments passed in silent waiting and then the angels rose with their precious cargo in their arms.
“This day, two shining lights have been extinguished from this school, but there would be others to rise up in their place.” As the elder spoke, a joyous chorus rang in the heavens. For two of God’s beloved were coming home—victorious and whole.
What the Village Took by L. P. Hoffman, (c) 2006