I had another post scheduled for today, but given the tragic events of yesterday, it just didn't seem appropriate. It's easy to stand by quietly, to be sad in our hearts but keep our thoughts to ourselves. But in the face of violence, we need to be bold. We need to stand up. We need to say something.
Another day. Another mass shooting. More fear. More hatred. More confusion.
Can I be honest with you? My first reaction to the tragedy yesterday was polite sympathy - sadness for all who are hurting, but only from a distance. When did that become okay? When did acts of violence become so commonplace that we stopped feeling their weight? When did the shock and daze and heartsickness wear off?
I'm tired of mass shootings becoming one-day news cycles. I'm tired of feeling helpless and numb and indifferent.
I'm afraid that violence is becoming more and more the norm. That tomorrow we'll go back to our normal lives, eating our normal breakfast, reading normal headlines about the election and the Tony Awards, thinking about our normal (crazy) week ahead. I'm afraid that hate is growing stronger. That the world is growing numb to it.
This is the battle we fight in our hearts and minds. Face-to-face with violence, feeling helpless, defeated, alone. But this is not the time to shake our heads and move on. This is a time to look up, to stand together, to do something.
Because in the face of violence, we can be love and light and hope in a world that desperately needs it. It's a choice we make - to love instead of hate, hope instead of fear, rise up instead of shrink back. To live boldly and love one another with the kind of love God shows us every day.
A love that knows no limits, no bounds, no fear. Love that breaks down walls, defies conventions, overcomes adversity. Love that conquers all. Love that never fails.
Fear doesn't win. Hate doesn't win. Darkness doesn't win. We do not walk alone.
Instead, let's begin this week by walking together - a broken, hurting people - leaning on each other, clinging to each other, loving one another the best we can.
Let's make music and create beauty and do the hard work of building community. Let's smile at strangers and be kind. Let's look for small ways to honor and serve others. Let's offer peace instead of division, respect instead of judgement. Let's invite people in instead of looking for ways to keep them out.
Let's extend a hand to someone instead of turning the other way. Let's break down a wall instead of putting one up. Let's look for things we have in common instead of things that separate us. Let's pray and listen for God's leading.
Let's write the letter, be a voice, be an advocate for someone who needs it. Let's love without an agenda, without conditions, without bias. Let's forgive instead of holding a grudge. Let's start the conversation instead of waiting for someone else to speak first.
Let's look people in the eyes and be encouragers. Let's hold onto faith where there is fear, hope where there is doubt. Let's stand shoulder-to-shoulder and help one another. Let's offer people a place at the table.
We have work to do.