Friday, July 20, 2012

Praying for Victims of Violence

Dear Friends,

This morning, with all of you, I'm praying for all those who were injured, or lost their lives, in last night's senseless massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.  I've seen that a three-month-old infant is among the dead.  As day breaks, it's almost impossible to imagine the waves of grief overwhelming families, friends, neighbors.  And somewhere, in a Colorado jail: a young man who lost it, whose only remaining thrill turned vicious and violent.  I'm praying for all of them and for all of us.

In my tradition, we cherish the notion of humanity as a body--one living body, many members.  In that sense, we've all lost something overnight.  When the young man opened fire in a theater last night, he ripped at the flesh and fabric of shared community.  If you're feeling a little less safe today, I pray for you.  If you're sending your kids to the movies today--a bit less sure of things--I pray for you and for them.

Over the past couple years, I've worked with friends in Santa Cruz to advance the "Charter for Compassion" as a tool for public life and community discernment.  Can we return to a core commitment to empathy, generosity and love for neighbor?  Can we make that commitment the central feature of public discourse and decision-making?  You might want to check out the Charter's website this morning--as a way of renewing your commitment to compassion in daily life.  There are things we can do.  Even today.  Especially today.

Here's a prayer for all of us:

God of the very young and the very old,
God of the very broken and the very frail,
God of those who dream and those who can't:

You know our pain and our fear,
You hear our unspoken rage and our desperate cries for help.

We pray today for all those who were in that theater last night:
for lovers and children, for working folk and worrying folk,
for all those who just wanted a little entertainment at the end of a long day.

Receive in mercy and grace those who lost their lives.
You are the Source of all lives--look upon them in your infinite Love.
Touch with healing power all those wounded,
and bless those who now care for them in the hour of need.
And be a blessing to all the others who carry awful, frightening memories
into the rest of their lives.  Grant peace.  Grant rest.  Grant wholeness.

Thank you, Holy One, for all the responders who did their jobs well:
for police officers and paramedics, for firefighters and theater workers.
We give thanks for their public commitments, for their risking of life,
for the ongoing service of our public servants.  We would not be the same
without these brave neighbors and friends.

With humility and courage, we pray too for the sad young man who
planned and executed this awful attack.  You know he's not well.  You
hold him, somehow, in your heart of mercy and grace.  Help us, as a country,
to search out the violence--the love of violence--in our own hearts.  And then
teach us at last to lay down our swords, shields, gas masks, nukes--and study
war, study war games, study video war games, study it no more.

For you--Creator, Maker, Lover--are the God of Love.  You have made us
for Love.  And we would walk in your steps.  Now, always.  In Aurora, Santa
Cruz, and everywhere.  Amen.