The road ends, but the journey continues...

The State of Our American Backyard

from cnn: (comments in italics are mine)

“A beloved Northern California festival (Gilroy grows great garlic and is a small town for goodness’ sake), a neighborhood Walmart in Mississippi (who doesn’t go to Walmart?), another Walmart near the US-Mexico border (Cielo Vista Retail/Mall is a major shopping area that even Las Cruceans go to…) and a popular entertainment district (summer evening activities in the heart of the city…should be safe). All four were the scenes of shootings in the last week — events that together left at least 34 people dead and more than 50 wounded.

A week bookended by violence has left residents shaken, frustrated and grieving.”

“A weekend bookended by violence…”

That phrase, that sentence keeps resounding loud and clear in my mind along with the images of the people and places known and unknown to me.
We lived in the Bay area during the 1980s often joking about Gilroy because of the garlic in the way most large metropolises talk about small towns. Hubby is from Las Cruces, NM where we’ve lived at different times in our married life and where the connections with El Paso and Juarez are more profound & active than with Las Cruces’ New Mexican cities to the north. In fact Cielo Vista Mall was the place to go from all around to shop for clothes. And as for the other two places – who doesn’t go to Walmart or enjoy a summer’s evening out?
Who doesn’t go to school or church, temple or mosque for that matter?
Everyday Americans doing everyday things.
Then the loudest voice among ‘experts’ chiding us everyday Americans for not carrying weapons in order to protect ourselves while going out and about doing our everyday activities…(ref. Larry Ward responses to Amna Nawaz interview questions on PBS Newshour)
Lord have mercy.
20 years ago our kiddos sat in their respective classrooms in Boulder County schools (the eldest in high school) during the shock-surprise of Columbine just 34 miles away from us.
Not directly in the line of fire – but definitely in my backyard.
Our backyard. Our American Backyard.
This cannot be our new normal.
Lord have mercy.

st francis quote

from St. Francis of Assisi, prayer


  1. Andy

    These tragedies seem endless. How many more before change?
    I’ve been sat in front of St.Francis’ tomb in Assisi. Beautiful town, surrounded by countryside.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Endless…How many more? Indeed.

  2. Janis

    Beautiful prayer, Laura. One we should all take to heart. Thank you for adding your voice.

    • laura bruno lilly

      St. Francis of Assisi has always been a favorite…

  3. Jennie Fitzkee

    Laura, I think the most powerful words were in your title, our American backyard. Like you, I am sick and worried and upset. My best reaction is to teach my preschoolers kindness and acceptance, right and wrong.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yep, Jennie, keep doin’ what you do because it does make a difference.

  4. Jane Chesebrough

    My sympathies are with you, and I would rather not have arms other than the ones I have to hug with. We in Canada are not immune-we have our gun enthusiasts, had had attacks for various reasons that have terrorized the public, whether the perpetrator falls into the definition of “terrorist” or not. My nephew, who has firearms, won’t talk to me because of my opinion and it is this type of attitude-my way or the highway- that scares me. BTW, if you heard about those two teenage fugitives on the run in Canada, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) found two bodies that they suspect are them. It just makes me feel sad., and relieved that the communities in northern Manitoba can breathe again. I am curious what the police will be able to patch together to learn about Why? I know the argument is “guns don’t kill people, people do.” We have become so anesthetized to violence from constant bombardment on TV, games, and glorification of war and have been arguing the same arguments for decades but done nothing. The prayer of St Francis is soothing, and fitting.

    • laura bruno lilly

      The thing is – assault weapons are weapons of war, very different from the shotguns farmers use to get rid of pesky critters agitating their livestock or whatever.
      I am thankful to have two strong arms to hug with – good thought, Jane.
      Yes, I watched news on the Canadian teenagers on the run…

  5. Catherine de Seton

    20 years since Columbine – wow… and the lessons learnt, n/a it appears. I’m not in the USA but in New Zealand where our peaceful and serene lives were rocked earlier this year by gunman at mosque in Christchurch. At the time, I was in Hokitika (over the mountains from ChCh) away basically on the backpackers trail and so many foreign nationals (young ones) were shocked that NZ seen as safe, suddenly wasn’t…

    • laura bruno lilly

      New Zealand is such a special place – community-wise as well as scenic-wise. Our youngest son spent 3 months there one year and I never worried about his safety.

  6. Roseanne

    Amen to that, Laura. Wonderful prayer – it gives me the chills. Thanks for sharing it. ~smile~ Roseanne

    • laura bruno lilly

      You’re more than welcome, Roseanne.

  7. Lillian Batarseh


    • laura bruno lilly

      Hugs, dear Madame.

  8. L. Marie

    Amen to that, Laura. May we be instruments of peace in a chaotic world.

    • laura bruno lilly

      His Hands extended…

  9. Marty

    A salve for our collective souls right now, Laura. I love the sentiment in the St. Francis prayer especially.
    For the love of all that is humanity, in what realm of common sense is it that we are told to pack heat in order to go about conducting the daily routines of our lives? I don’t want to live in a society in which clergy, teachers, cashiers, nurses, etc., are now encouraged to go to target practice in addition to carrying out their duties. This is insanity. – Marty

    • laura bruno lilly

      Agreed –
      BTW: your post helped me to solidify my thoughts enough to write this post. Thanks again for your ‘voice.’

  10. Jill Weatherholt

    I think our thought were in sync, Laura. I was just studying this verse last night Genesis 6:5-7 (KJV)

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yes, Jill, and the scripture I shared with my little listers is: John 16:33
      Take care.

  11. Ally Bean

    The prayer you share here is what I need to remember and recite daily. I cannot fathom how all of these mass shootings continue to happen, but living where I do [SW Ohio] I admit to feeling completely frustrated by these people in my backyard. What a horribly confused time [and place] in which we live.

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