Recovering, All Over Again

I can’t quite make myself get going. The haunting horror of the killings at the Pulse gay club in Orlando hangs over my head so that I can hardly look to the heavens to see beyond it. How do I bring light, not to mention love, to others if my own heart is dark and afraid?

Some say, “This, too, shall pass.” But it seems to belittle the tragedy. I scour the New York Times and Facebook for ideas, projects, and movements that will limit people’s access, particularly to AR-15 machine guns. What group action can I join? Could churches across denominations, or associations like Faith in Action turn their corporate power against the gun lobby? Do we have that much power?

Why do things like Orlando happen? Why are they impossible to thwart?

William Hazlitt said, “Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.” So we experience the mass shootings that mount up in our current history, wringing our hands, feeling powerless.

A character in Herbert Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game laments: “…if only it were possible to find understanding….If only there were a dogma to believe in. Everything is contradictory, everything tangential; there are no certainties anymore….Isn’t there any truth?” [1943]

Well, yes. There are truths. There are commonly held truths. People of faith—of whatever kind—find meaning in their community held truths, a chosen understanding of how darkness, some say “sin,” comes into the world. And when darkness overwhelms the light of our privileged lives here and now, we gather together, march in solidarity, hear or read uplifting, motivating speeches and homilies and prayers, and then pledge energy and money toward new, more stringent guidelines for guns and mental health in our city, state and nation.

But inevitably, disaster will come again. James Hollis says, “To experience some healing within ourselves, and to contribute healing to the world, we are summoned to wade through the muck from time to time. Where we do not go willingly, sooner or later we will be dragged.” I find that each such dark experience teaches me something. And so does scripture.

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Mt. of Olives; Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

In the farewell talks in John, Jesus says, “Do you really believe? An hour is coming—in fact, it has already come—when you will all be scattered and go your own ways, leaving me alone; yet I can never be alone, for Abba God is with me. I have told you all this that in me you may find peace. You will suffer in the world. But take courage! I have overcome the world.” [Jn 16.31-33] We will suffer in the world. But we are not alone.

3 thoughts on “Recovering, All Over Again

  1. I agree with your quote from Hollis that “…we will wade thorough the muck from time to time…”. Yes, I definitely have been dragged though the muck, but I prefer the description “…tried by fire…”. So what I am here for? To know God. Once I figured out that my purpose is to know God, all of life’s issues fall into place of their own accord. As far as access, it is difficult to trim fat off of the Constitution…it is not firearms, it is disenfranchisement and alienation.

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    • I think you’re right. Each of us finds the best metaphor when we’re in the midst of the mess. But when we know God is in the mess too, it gets easier. Firearms? It is disenfranchisement and alienation. And it is that weapons are too readily accessible.

      Thanks for this and your last comment.

      Cathy

      >

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