On Sunday, there was another church massacre. This time in Sutherland Springs, Texas. While I was inviting my congregation to pray for the victims of the latest terror attack in New York City, another was occurring. Twenty- six people, many of them children, are among the dead. The number of persons killed is made worse by the ages of the parishioners. The youngest was an eighteen month old.
Was. I am writing about an eighteen month old child in the past tense. This is out of order, not the way life is suppose to go. And there is another child even younger. A pregnant mother was killed too and a baby dies before she/ he cries. No baby shower, no balloons– only bullets. More and more bullets. Some say, we needed more bullets, good bullets to protect them. But, I don’t want anymore bullets.
Hasn’t there been enough of them? How many crime scenes can we view? How many of these stories must we bear? Is there no threshold? Because there is no talk of this being the last time, that we have had enough of this. Instead, there is planning for the next, steps to protect ourselves in the likely event of the next and next time, make sure you have a gun. More bullets.
But, what about the bodies and the violence that they represent? What about the loss of their lives? What about their stories and the voices lost? Gunned down. And the response is, don’t put your guns down. But, violence begets violence (cf. Matthew 26.52). This is its only offspring.
And the bodies are piling up. How can we claim to see straight or be able to see through to a solution? Bullets all around, our only response is more guns. The smoke will never clear this way. We have entered the haze and the daze of violence. I am crying in the midst of it all, head bowed and covered for fear of being shot.
Because we may be able to bury them in a week but not the grief. Moving on from this is not resilience but a cover up. We wear the mask that says, “We are fine. We are strong.” But, it keeps coming up, bubbling up, welling up. Our fears are increased with each attack and it is harder to muffle the sound of our cries. It takes longer to push down our repulsion and the revulsion of our soul.
This post is an invitation to cry, to enter into the grief of this moment and so many others like it. This is an expression of sorrow after tragedy… when there is tragedy after tragedy… when the moment is filled with words that don’t help and helpless words. This is a lament.
Because their deaths don’t make me want to buy a gun. It makes me want to cry, cry loud and hard and long. It makes me want to put on sackcloth and ashes. I want to mourn now.
May their souls find the peace that we were not able to provide them here. This is my prayer. Amen.