I haven't been absence from here by choice. . .and I was going to explain all of what led to my being in a nursing home today.
But sometimes events shake us and make us think of things in a different way. The movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, a place I have watched movies myself, if one of those times. The nation is shocked, the people of Denver (Aurora is a suburb) more so than anyone else . . . does anyone else wonder, why us? again? Wasn't Columbine enough?
So I thought I would post, with her consent, this thoughtful piece from my friend Karla Johnson.
There is a tear in our community today.
I believe the only way we get through life is to close our eyes to the fact that anything can happen to anyone at any time. We simply can't laugh or love or care with that truth close and high in our minds. So we simply shut the thought away. Then, in a slap of a reminder, something like the Aurora Theater tragedy happens . . .
And we are struck with the reality that life is fragile and our close-by neighbors can be struck down and torn down without notice.
As our hearts are stinging from the slap of the killings, our souls are suddenly uncomfortable with God. Our minds try to make up the difference by scrambling for that nugget of truth will help us make sense of it all. Who would do that? How could such a thing happen?
Let us remember, if we can:
-Dark forces and bad people do exist. They are real. But the darkness doesn't get to win. When we see the results of this killing power, we must remember that light overcomes. Had this not been true throughout the ages, humankind would have ceased to exist eons ago. Our power to love and to care will always be the stronger force in this world.
-There is no such thing as a bad emotion right now. Shock, anger, ambivalence, horror, and shutting down are all within the normal range of human emotions. We are allowed.
-Stories like this leave us feeling helpless. But we always have the power to impact a situation: We can care. We can grieve and share the load of this tear. We can pray. We can offer love. People have often said to me: "When I went through that dark season, I could feel the prayers. They gave me strength and lifted me through the impossible." Prayer makes a difference, no matter who you are or how little or much you pray throughout your days.
-Remember to reject any ideas of blame or condemnation. The shooting was not the fault of a neighborhood, race, class, or otherwise. Blaming the victims may let is off the hook emotionally, but the truth is . . . anything can happen to anybody at any time. There has already been too much darkness, and it is time to claim compassion as fellow humans.
-Today--in the midst of the shock--is the day to ask God all of those uncomfortable questions. And don't worry, there's no rule against it. In fact, a great deal of my sacred text is dedicated to laments and hard questions. We're all allowed, and we don't get points taken off for being real. As a would-be "God" scholar, I believe having the courage to ask God hard questions is counted as faith. In my experience, God does not always offer up palatable answers. But God does offer comfort and an unfailing presence of care.
-Many churches are holding services this evening. We are spiritual beings as well as physical beings, and we all need spiritual care. Go where you can to get what yourSOUL needs. The churches and spiritual houses around you will welcome you, no matter your past, your faith background, or your present. This is a time to come together. (I can recommend some services if that would help).
-Reach out. What else can we do? Coming together will help mend this tear, even though our fabric will never again be the same.
If you can, please join me::
God, we care. We are angry. We are shocked. We are horrified. We don't know how this is possible. We don't know how You could have let this happen. Give us comfort. Give us strength.
Be with those who lost loved ones. There are no words that will hold their grief, and we pray You would be there--be as present and as loud as their horror. Be with the moms and dads and brothers and sisters and friends and neighbors and grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles who will face an empty space at the table for the rest of their days.
Give strength to the first responders, the chaplains, the investigators, and the support system around this tragedy.
Remember the forgotten ones who have no direct care. Remember the invisible pains and the empty spaces within each person across the nation.
Be present, God. Be present. And help us all bring more light, more love, more care, and more humanity into this fragile state we know as life.
All that Karla asks in return for reposting her prayer is the opportunity to minister to you further through her Community Prayer Day. Check her out at https://www.facebook.com/karlayjohnson and feel your way to her prayer group. (sorry, I don't have the exact instructions)
Karla lives in Aurora. I lived in Denver for 20 years.