I have been trying to think about what to say about the Umpqua shootings but my heart is breaking and my mind won’t process this. So I am asking you for your prayer this week to write letters to your legislators about gun legislation, talk to your neighbors about keeping safe, and get involved in your community and/or church youth programs. Talk kids and get to know your own children and the children they play with. Keep the kids involved with family and community and help them find safe ways to release anger and frustration. If you need a gun for hunting then talk to every member of the family about gun safety and keep your guns in a secure gun safe when you aren’t using them. I know that isn’t much but if all of us become more aware and involved in the efforts to regulate guns in a responsible manner than maybe, just maybe we won’t be speechless anymore.
My thoughts over the last couple of months have been over whelmed by the violence, the bullying, the tragedy, and the anger that has played across my TV screen, computer, radio and newspaper in the last couple of months. I have seen the quote by some famous person that reads “those who keep silent in the face of evil are giving their approval,” or the pictures’ displaying one perspective versus another and which one has the greatest validity. I am left speechless and in pain. Yes I have heard that even one small act of mercy changes someone and I have used those very words myself many times. Do what you can and ‘wait,’ wait for minds to change, or for hearts to open, . . . wait for what.
The scripture for Sunday came from Isaiah and begins with “Comfort, O Comfort my people” (40:1), but, I’m sorry I don’t feel that comfort. I offer prayers, I read, and I listen. I volunteer at the King County Juvenile Detention Center, here at church, and lead the occasional spiritual retreat and labyrinth walk, yet, except for Juvenile Detention CTR, I feel as if I am “preaching to the choir,” so to speak. Where in all of these days of suffering, and confusion does the offering come that provides more than my comfort and brings a justly faithful, hopeful, loving comfort to those who do not share my skin color, or language, or culture, or gender, or abilities, or whatever makes them different from the so called “main stream” of the population.
This meditation was intended to be an inspirational moment. But I am not feeling very inspirational, just too much has happened in the last couple of months. So I ask your forgiveness for talking through some of my thoughts. I live in a world that appears to be falling apart as I sit my comfortable, warm home. I keep asking what will stop the building blocks our lives from tumbling into the abyss.
I am afraid we are headed into a storm of our own making that will destroy us. We won’t need to be invaded, no; we are doing a grand job of destruction all by ourselves. Voices of change and compassion, justice, mercy, and peace are drowned out by hateful speech by bullies in high places. The actions and words of those high placed bullies give permission to those who fear the unknown to be violent and destructive at the ground roots level. Hateful speech and actions becomes a cancer eating away at our will to fight against justice and mercy.
So I sit in my little home office, offering prayers, and volunteering when the opportunity arises. I do my small acts that I pray are being added to other small acts, but I don’t know if any of it will be enough. Our denominations GLBQ organization used the slogan “All Means ALL” at our last national General Assembly. They wanted to get the message across that everyone matters, despite gender identification, skin color, religion, or culture everyone is important. There are very few slogans I actually believe in, but I believe in that one. If I can do nothing other than let each and every person know how much they matter in my life, in the life of my Faith Community, and in the life of the greater community we are all part of then I have done the best I can. That will have to be enough.