She had the most beautiful smile and lovely bright eyes. She was young and full of life. Her picture was everywhere you went smiling back at you. And we all wanted her to come home. Collectively,
We all connected with Jessica. All the parents longed for their lost daughter to come back, all the children prayed for their missing sister, all the grandparents ached for their precious grandchild.
And when she was found a profound sense of loss, grief and anger blanketed the entire region. The day they announced on the news Jessica's body had been recovered in the woods near Tweed a friend of mine was shopping in the mall. She felt everyone looked in need of a shower - dirty, tired and oppressed.
We are a small, quiet rural region and murders of this type are shocking and unheard of. Even worse, the accused murderer, a sexual predator and serial killer lived amongst us for many months preying on other women and responsible for the murder of another woman, Marie, less than 5 months previous.
A man of authority, Commander of our local Air Force Base no less.
We are shaken to the core and our trust is shattered. For the moment a man in uniform instigates a knee-jerk reaction in me of suspiscion.
Are you really who you say you are?
I don't like feeling this way and I know in time it will pass.
Jessica is safe now. No one can hurt her any more. She will forever be 27 with lovely bright eyes and a beautiful smile.
I pray for the healing to begin not only for Jess' family but for the whole region, for all those who work in the Armed Forces and everyone else who diligently cried out, insisting this darkness be exposed and justice initiated.
We have a long road ahead of us and still many questions in need of answers.
"But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Father God, we need you more then ever - open your floodgates of Grace and wash us clean with your Love. Amen