Wednesday, shortly after noon, I walked out the front doors of the Church for Al People on my way to having lunch with Jennifer. The street was filled with police cars and ambulances. My first reaction was to wonder if this was part of a movie set. The day before, John Travolta was in a local bar filming a scene for his new movie. A woman dressed for her part as an extra shopped in our market.
But before I could finish this thought, I smelled it. Gunpowder. The distinctive, pungent smell of gunpowder hung in the air. I knew the odor well from my Air Force days of weapons qualification. But the strength of the smell amazed me. How many shots had to be fired for the smell to be that powerful?
We would soon learn that the victim was a role model of our community. A 29 year old woman who owned five day care facilities, including the one across the street from our church. Jenea Harvison was about to be recognized as the Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year. She was a shining star in an emerging and hopeful community.
That smell of gunpowder was the smell of death. Jenea and her brother Donell were killed by her estranged husband, who was then shot by the police.
This event has made Good Friday all the more poignant.
This shooting awakens us to the violence and tragedy that surrounds us. From Jenea to Jesus, when innocent people are killed entire communities are shattered. The shockwaves of violence travel further than the echo of any gunshot.
The mother, whose son-in-law killed both of her children, will never be the same.
The children, parents, employees, and community of Success Kidz will never be the same.
The people of Columbus South Side who have seen the darkness of a life extinguished will never be the same.
Today, we sit at the foot of the cross of unnecessary violence. We sit with Mary and Martha and everyone across the generations who will never be the same. We sit and join our voices with the psalmist who cries, How long O Lord, how long?