What does one do when driven to hopelessness and a sadness so deep it penetrates one’s very being? The senseless violence of a shooting by an eighteen year old who first shot his grandmother and then went on a rampage in a classroom with children. Children!
And what of the other eighteen year old who was racially motivated to kill 10 black people.
And yet, what can we do? Pray? Absolutely. We must pray. We must pray for a long list of people beginning with the shooter. Some may want to pray for the redemption of his soul, others that he may rot in hell, and still others don’t know how or what they should pray for related to him. So just pray. Empty hour thoughts and give your prayer to God. God will know, I am sure of that.
Pray for his family, friends, and loved ones. The hell they must be in.
Pray for those who died. Be assured, they are cared for like all of God’s creatures who die and go to heaven. And still, we all need to name them and remember them. It is important for our own humanity.
Pray extra hard for family and loved ones of the victims. I cannot imagine what they are going through. The pain, the deep searing pain one has when a loved one dies in such a senseless and horrific way.
Pray for gun owners and gun sellers, that they will be responsible. I know that it feels like a stretch to believe this possible for ALL gun sellers and owners. However, do we or do we not believe that ANYTHING is possible with God. So pray, ask for it, hope for it, and do what you can to make it possible. Learn about responsible gun reform and do what you can to implement it in any way you can. The Episcopal Church has an Office of Government Relations. On their website, you can send a letter to your elected officials telling them you want Gun Reform. Visit the site Bishop’s Against Gun Violence.
Pray for all who are filled with such rage, that they will not act in such horrific ways. Pray that they find a constructive way to deal with their anger and fear.
Pray that our society can talk about rage, anger, and violence. Teaching our children skills to deal with such overwhelming emotions instead of joining fringe groups that exploit those feelings.
Pray that justice for all be taught in our schools, talked about in our public discourse, and that the church will lead society in a charge to change our racist ideas, institutions, and policies. For a racially equitable society is a better society for all. Let your pray be action. Find places in your heart that need reform and transform yourself into someone new. God will be with you in this.
Where your energy and focus is, that is what will grow in you. Do not let the violence of these two horrific acts (and the many more violent acts before these) consume your energy and focus and lead you to fear. Instead focus on building a more honest society where we can express our anger and rage in ways that are not violent but are constructive. Instead of focusing on violence, let us all focus on how to love those hardest to love better. Let us focus on stretching our compassion to those for whom we do not believe deserve it. Learn what it takes to be calmer, more peaceful, and more loving each and everyday. Because that is what we got, just the day in front of us. In some ways, life is resilient and strong. In other ways, it is so very fragile. This is the paradox we live in. How does one live into the strength that God gives each one us and also become aware of the fragility that surrounds us all?