As you might imagine, it has been an immensely difficult morning. I’ve tried several times to write this post. It’s too much. I don’t have the answer for everyone, but let me tell you what I am committing myself to.
I am going to pray. Not the bargaining with God prayer or the “Why, God? Why?!” prayer (though that second one is a good option on many occasions). I am going to pray opens hearts and open eyes. I, and we, need to feel and see suffering and allow ourselves to suffer with the world. I was reminded of a Juergen Moltmann quote as I was contemplating today’s shooting, “What does it mean to recall the God who was crucified in a society whose official creed is optimism, and which is knee-deep in blood?” I struggle to find the answer to that question. Jesus suffered a violent death at the hands of a society that was knee-deep in blood. What will we learn from our Lord? Will we seek to justify this violence and all the violence we encounter in our lives? Or will we seek to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus, who offers God’s liberation from death? The love of violence in this country has to end at some point. I think the first step is an open heart and open eyes.
I am going to have more grace for others. I have a friend who describes the internet as “speaking, without listening”. I would suggest that is the conversation style we are taught in our culture. I want to hear others. I want to be heard by others. In the movie Pulp Fiction Uma Thurman’s character asks “Do you listen, or do you just wait to talk?” John Travolta’s character responds “I wait to talk, but I’m trying to listen.” I am trying to listen. I need to hear what my brothers and sisters are saying. Only when I have truly heard them can I respond in love. “Do unto others…” is our golden rule. I want to be heard, so I must listen. This grace will hopefully lead to more productive conversations around violence and domination in our culture.
I am going to work to end gun violence in the US. It past time in this country to have the conversation about serious gun control. A majority of people in the country think that it is past time. The Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Episcopal Church have both taken strong stands against gun violence in this country. People of faith can disagree on solutions, but everyone knows there’s a problem. Let’s have the grace-filled conversation and come up with some solutions to this epidemic problem. This is not the time to say “this is not the time for this conversation.” The time was years ago. Let’s get started today.
Lastly, I am going to leave my door open. I am here at the Chapel. I’m not a therapist, but I am here for a spiritual conversation. Let’s listen to each other’s pain and grief at the state of the world. Let’s talk about our vision for a new world. Let’s figure out how we are going to make it happen. You’re always welcome when the Chapel is open. If it’s not and you want to set up a time, email me through the contact page on the blog.
Grace and peace, Rob