Friday afternoon brought tragedy for the ACU community. A group of students who planned to spend the weekend together in Medina building playgrounds instead spent it scattered throughout four West Texas hospitals.
Not everyone on campus knows the 12 students, three faculty and one faculty spouse involved. We cannot feel the physical or emotional affliction of those who survived the accident. We cannot know the pain that penetrates the souls of Anabel Reid’s friends. But their sadness permeates our lives and our campus.
Within hours of the accident, the Beauchamp Amphitheater overflowed with more than 1,000 people who wanted to be together to pray for those hurting. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and strangers held hands and prayed for the victims and for each other. Our first instinct was to immerse ourselves in community and prayer. It felt natural.
No one who went to the amphitheater Friday night understands why our friends’ mission trip was ended by a collision with a concrete culvert. No one who spent last night waiting in a hospital lobby or by a telephone understands why so many spirits and bodies were broken. And not one of Anabel’s parents, family members or friends understands why they now are remembering a life cut short at just 19 years.
The only fragment of this tragedy we can begin to comprehend is our role in the healing process. We need to be the comfort, the encouragement and – when the time comes – the help to heal. We must offer our unassuming presence as our purest form of support.
This role is not foreign to the ACU community. In times of heartache we congregate. Wrapped in each other’s arms we get to our feet. We dry each other’s tears and turn our faces to God.
We mourn the loss of Anabel, a young woman whose character filled that comforting role so well. Friends say simply her company in a room was a calming presence. No words were necessary. No actions were needed.
Still, as we weep for Anabel, we rejoice in the 15 that are recovering. These emotions, though drastically different, saturate our campus. Our mood is heavy but hoping.