On Faith: Response to tragedy shows spiritual wholeness in Two HarborsColumn: This month witnessed the unspeakably tragic death of a young, talented and vivacious girl. An outpouring of grief from the entire community of Two Harbors spontaneously arose to confront the loss.
By: Pastor Mark Hillmer, For the News-Chronicle
This month witnessed the unspeakably tragic death of a young, talented and vivacious girl. Katie was a sophomore at Two Harbors High School. She and her family moved here from Willmar last fall.
An outpouring of grief from the entire community of Two Harbors spontaneously arose to confront the loss. The beacons of life and love challenged the darkness of death and agony just as surely as the lighthouse in the harbor has stood against the stormy gales of Lake Superior.
On the Friday night of the tragedy — word spreads quickly on Facebook — youth by the dozens spent the evening together in anguished prayer at Katie’s church, Bethlehem Lutheran.
Hundreds of Katie’s schoolmates gathered there again the following night to sing through their tears to Katie’s God, to light candles in her memory and to weep in each other’s arms.
Food poured in from Holy Spirit, the neighboring Roman Catholic Church, to nourish any young mourners who may have had an appetite.
Sunday, all the local churches prayed for Katie and her family, both for her immediate family and for the large network of friends whom Katie had touched in the eight short months she was with them.
Monday, several of the local pastors spent the morning counseling with bereaved and shaken students.
Thursday, the visitation line at Cavallin’s Funeral Home extended down the steps and onto the sidewalk.
Friday, 700 people, mostly young, gathered at the high school auditorium whose stage was garlanded by more than 50 floral arrangements to pay their last respects.
After the memorial service, women representing the entire community served a generous lunch to all, including the many young athletes, cheerleaders and band members who filled the Fire Hall.
The firefighters made their building available and the four fire trucks stood like lonely sentinels in front.
The facts speak for themselves and need little commentary.
Two Harbors is a closely knit community where word spreads fast and love flows deep.
I liken Two Harbors to Brigadoon, the imaginary Scottish town that appears every hundred years, where the citizens sing and dance and exhibit deep devotion to their mythical village.
Two Harbors is more permanent than Brigadoon — and more real. Its love and caring, its laughter and tears, are shared all year round.
What a wonderful place to live, if only for a year.
The high school band will play again but with one less flute.
The softball team will win more games but with one less player.
The Agate Choir will sing more anthems, but you’ll have to listen between the notes to hear the missing angel.
Katie won’t be around anymore, but her infectious smile and caring presence will not soon be forgotten.
Her leaving has revealed to me what I will treasure when I leave Two Harbors: its deep community love and its spiritual wholeness.
Pastor Mark Hillmer is the interim pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.