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The light shines at home
August 8, 2014

By Laura Vitelli | I’ve been thinking a lot about home lately. More than usual, in fact. But, I’ve been thinking more about it on a macro level—the geographic place I call home, my city, my neighborhood.

My home is West Saint Paul. I love it there. I enjoy the small town feel and easy access to the city that is part of a first ring suburb. Rarely do I go to Target or the library or anywhere else without running into someone I know. We have good schools, active congregations, beautiful parks, walking trails, and families who have lived there for generations. There is a sense of community. People look out for each other.

Ten days ago, my home was rocked by a senseless act of violence. Not the first, but one of a magnitude most of us hadn’t experienced before. To have an officer of the law, a community leader, gunned down during a traffic stop in the middle of the day was shocking and painful.

It has changed everything and nothing.

Everything looked and sounded different returning home that day. There were police squads all over. Sirens blared often. Helicopters were in the air. Streets we drive everyday were closed—no one walking their dogs, no children playing. We were waiting on edge. Waiting for news the suspect had been caught. And, we had to face our kids’ questions about how something like this could happen to anyone, let alone a friend’s parent and police officer. This is a question we’ll all carry with us from now on. We’ve been changed.

But, the community remained strong. A vigil was organized within hours. Words of support and donations poured in for the family and the Mendota Heights police department. We checked in with our friends and neighbors. And, on Wednesday, thousands stood on the curbs under the bright sun to thank and honor Officer Patrick, his family, and all those who protect and serve our community. It was exactly what I knew I could count on in my community, in my home. My home didn’t change.

During the funeral, Pastor Cassie Nault read the New Testament words familiar to many Christians—“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The darkness did not overcome. The light still shines at home.

Laura Vitelli
Laura Vitelli leads the planning and execution of strategic, integrated fund development and communications for Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. With her team of five, she is responsible for fund development, communications and marketing.