Skip to main content

Keeping Them Close to Our Heart

It can be hard to see the sun's beautiful light on a day darkened by tragedy and loss. It seems so utterly at odds with the pain and the shock. Yet it is at those times we most need to gaze into the light. I received this letter today from a local minister. I share it here because it says so much that I feel and  others feel today. I share it because, while it faces the darkness of tragedy, it also affirms the light that never leaves us---if we gaze upon it, into it, and share it. In that spirit, I share the letter below from Pastor Melanie Martínez to her congregation in a small city in North Texas.

It is with deep sadness that I am writing you today, having just learned that our nation's community has suffered a great tragedy this morning. I'm writing to ask you for your fervent prayer for the families of victims killed in an elementary school shooting. Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, school home to approx. 700 students, fell victim to an unnamed gunman who is responsible for the deaths of more than 20 children and adults.

Though this tragedy has occurred well away from our community in Texas, the impact of such a horrific event certainly rips through our sense of safety and security all across the nation. The question "Why?" tugs at our hearts as we consider the great losses suffered by parents and families of those hurt and killed.

During such a moment, we may be tempted to shut ourselves away from this world of uncertainty. We may be tempted to foster hatred for those responsible. We may be tempted to blame God for not stepping in.

As people of faith, though, we know that God's presence is sure and true...even in situations and places where we do not readily see or feel God's goodness. Still, we trust in an almighty God who is present in each one of us and can be shown through us. The community in Newtown is offering exactly that presence through their immediate attention, care, outpouring of love, and the many acts of kindness to the children and adults who experienced the shooting. It is in community that we regain safety; that we again rest on the certain love of God. Make time to be with your community of faith, wherever and whatever that community is, and experience the presence of God for you.

We know that hatred begets further injury to ourselves and within our closest relationships. If hate begins to well up in your heart, I encourage you to release that to God's care. Anger is natural and reasonable...Jesus got angry when anger was justified. Be angry and work some act of love and comfort in response. Your response in love will keep hatred from growing among us.

We do not claim to know the mystery of God. We do know the frailty of human beings. As the details of this shooting and the stories of the children and loving adults whose lives were cut too short begin to flood into our awareness, listen for the still small voice of God in your life. Take the opportunity to share with others your deep love for them, and receive others' love and appreciation for you. Rest your thoughts in ways you can engage in preventing violence in future, even as you fill your thoughts with all the precious grace that God offers.

As you share time with friends and family for the those holidays in the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Islam, Sikh, or any other sacred tradition...hold the families of those who have been injured or killed today close to heart. Their holidays will be full of suffering, and as the Apostle Paul tell us, "If one member suffers, all suffer together" (1 Corinthians 12:26a). Send your prayers for their comfort. Send your hopes for their healing. Remember them...for it is in doing so that we honor God's creation and all those God loves.

May peace and love be with you all,
~ Pastor Mel

Copyright Rev. Melanie Martínez, all rights reserved.


Popular posts from this blog

Life without Television, Part 2

I began life without television with relief, which was consistent Monday through Friday. The first few weekends, though, felt awkward, anxious, lonely. When PBS has good programming on Saturday nights, it is extraordinarily good. Father Brown, Phryne Fisher, New Tricks... Extraordinary acting, high production values, and I fantasize about the pudgy, brilliant priest just perhaps having an innocent crush on one of his special parishioners, which would be moi. 

I called a friend one Sunday. "Maybe television helped with my anxiety more than I realized," I said. She told me about her aunt who, after her husband's death, kept the television on in his "man cave" 24/7. He has been gone years now. The television goes on, everlasting, in his absence. I don't blame her. Much of my frequent and prolonged television viewing began with grief.

After my sister died, I would watch almost anything, especially late at night when sleep eluded me. I even watched Convoy with …

Whose day?

Years ago, I made some collages using pages from a desk calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The image that leads this post is one. Inside the hearts and flowers is a picture from the MMA collection of  a Japanese screen made in the 16th century. It is titled Tagasode, which means Whose sleeves?  The title comes from a 10th-century poem:

The fragrance seems even more alluring than the hue, Whose sleeves have brushed past? Or would it be this plum tree blossoming here at home?
Iro yori mo ka koso awaredo omohoyure tagasode fureshi ado no ume zo mo
The word haunts: tagasode. Whose sleeves? The question floats in my mind like a cloud on a still day. The sleeves materialize in my mind's eye. I hear them move through hushed air. I can imagine, though not name, the scent of the person to whom those sleeves belong. It's not unlike smelling the scent of your infant's clothes, or holding the perfume bottle that belonged to your don't need to open it... you know tha…

Glad to Hear It

This past week, Larry Wilmore and company mentioned Rachel Dolezol again on The Nightly Show. I don't remember who made the comment, but either Wilmore or one of the panelists said, "Did Rachel Dolezol do anything bad? No, she really didn't. Why did we get so uptight about that?" I was glad to hear it. Three cheers for being human.

I looked briefly at what's on Google currently about her and the now much-discussed Shaun White. I intend not to enter any of that fray mentally or verbally. I still maintain that humanity trumps color. We have a long way to go until we can leave our "paint by numbers" mentality behind, but we've made progress. Good changes can come, even in the midst of chaos and controversy. Maybe White and Dolezal will help us see that eventually.

As long as I'm here and continuing on the subject of color, I think I'm not alone in the fact that I don't like being called "white." As for my background, it includes …