Yet another mass shooting

I’m…sad, angry, frustrated, lamenting, and who knows what else.

We’ve had more mass shootings in this country this year than days.

And after each one, no action to prevent the next one.

Woe to you America. That’s what I imagine the words from a prophet would be.

But would anyone actually listen? Those who have ears to hear would. And eyes to see. But they already are. It’s a burden to hear and see. You know what’s going to happen. And it sucks when you are right.

We could blame all sorts of people. Blaming is a fun game we like to do in this country after all. It diverts attention away from actually taking action. With this shooting I heard that side doors were to blame. I also heard that a trans person was to blame. Funny how straight white guys are never to blame for the 99% of the other shootings that happen the rest of the year.

There was also the picture of the Member of Congress who represents the district of him and his family holding guns in front of the Christmas tree for their Christmas card. Nothing says celebrate the Prince of Peace like a weapon.

There are plenty of people who point fingers at Congress for their inaction. And that’s partly accurate. But the voters keep putting people in office who are dead set against passing any gun legislation. So in that sense, you can blame the voters for this continuing.

In other words, we all have blood on our hands, and we’re all looking for ways to wash it off and point to someone else as guilty.

But woe to us. Assigning guilt to this doesn’t stop the next one from happening – probably tomorrow.

Here’s what I know. There are people who are disturbed enough by a statue, drag queens, and books to ban them, but are not disturbed enough by mass shootings to take action to stop the next ones. Or so that’s what it appears like to me.

I don’t understand this. I don’t understand these values. I don’t understand these beliefs. I don’t know what god it is that is worshipped that would have these priorities. None of this makes any sense to me.

It is compartmentalized thinking and reasoning. But really it is more than that. It goes to the depths of identity. And identity is beyond reason and rationality. It is beyond emotion. It doesn’t have to be consistent or make sense.

And so I have to pray. St. Francis of Assisi had a prayer that seems appropriate at a time like this:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace; 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 
Where there is injury, pardon; 
Where there is doubt, faith; 
Where there is despair, hope; 
Where there is darkness, light; 
And where there is sadness, joy. 

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console; 
To be understood, as to understand; 
To be loved, as to love; 
For it is in giving that we receive, 
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. 

It’s a challenging prayer. A prayer that isn’t focused on changing other people or assigning blame. It’s not about making others into anything else. I can’t make anyone do anything. I can’t change anyone else. I can only be changed. And the question is, how do I need to be changed in the midst of this. It goes beyond just understanding people that I don’t understand. It’s about embodying things that I’m having a difficult time embodying right now.

My prayer may not be as eloquent as St. Francis, but here it is.

Lord, here I am. You know what I need to be right now. Change me to be that. I don’t know how to be in relationship with people I am having a difficult understanding, with people I am angry with because of their priorities. I am struggling Lord. Use me Lord to bring peace. Give me peace that I might share it. use me to bring shalom. Give me shalom that I might share it. Use me Lord to take action to stop cruelty. Give me what I need that I might share it with others. Amen.

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