When a Small Town Mourns

Last weekend a tragedy struck the small Vermont town of Manchester: a young man who grew up in the town drowned in a canoe accident while away at college. This was the first time I’ve seen how a small town works through an event of that magnitude.

First of all, within two to three days, just about everyone knew. I needed to only provide a few reference points and every person I talked with knew exactly what I was referring to. Secondly, there was a tremendous outpouring of sympathy and support. I have never seen anything like it.

The funeral took place yesterday and Manchester was absolutely swamped with people: men sporting ties and women in beautiful dresses. Without divulging details of the funeral itself, I will say that I have never seen so many cars show up for a funeral.

As I’m processing all of this, I keep thinking about the ways everyone in a small town is interconnected. Not necessarily dependent on one another, but connected. The degrees of separation are small, we know people who know people, and so we have a very quick connection to each tragedy and triumph in the community.

When this tragedy hit Manchester, there was a common bond I experienced with many. We’re all in this mess called life together. We’re all struggling with similar losses, fears, and weaknesses.

In a moment we could agree that all is not well and good with the world; life can be as wonderful as it is painful. And in that moment, I remember that all creation longs for God’s coming redemption.

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