Feeling the heaviness and deep sadness for the loss of eight lives in Atlanta and now- 10 people in Boulder, I sit here with my tears. As these 18 people started their day, did they think about their safety? Or did they begin that day focused on the work that needed to be done, the care for their children and family and thoughts of what would come next — dinner, school, maybe even looking ahead to plan for time to safely leave home and relax — finally, the way days normally begin.
None of these people were able to experience the life they may have hoped and planned for. These tragic deaths have created holes in the fabric of our lives as community. We feel this loss and struggle to make sense out of what has happened.
When words cannot suffice, I turn to music. The words and melody often allow emotions to surface that my logical brain struggles to release.
This video was recorded soon after the shooting at Mother Emmanuel AME Church, Charleston SC in 2015. It was this evening’s music that allowed my grief to finally rise.
In honor of all who died in Atlanta and Boulder, I share this with you.
- Soon Chung Park
- Hyun Jung Grant
- Suncha Kim
- Yong Yue
- Delaina Ashley Yaun
- Paul Andre Michels
- Xiaojie Tan
- Daoyou Feng
- Denny Stong
- Neven Stanisic
- Rikki Olds
- Tralona Bartkowiak
- Suzanne Fountain
- Teri Leiker
- Ofc. Eric Talley
- Kevin Mahoney
- Lynn Murray
- Jody Waters
(Vietnamese brother comforting baby sister )
I wake this morning with few words and an aching heart.
I share this image as an icon of comfort and compassion – a human response at any age.
I share this prayer as a way to express the thoughts I carry deep within.
For Nice, France
“God have mercy on all those who have lost their lives without reason. Lift them up in your strong arms and hold them close. Receive them into a place where there is no more terror or sorrow. Help the injured to recover. Guard them from further pain. Comfort the families with deep compassion. Give them a sense of your presence as they search for a way to bear their grief. And pour your Spirit into this broken world. Let your love run like waters of life into every mind and heart. Show us how to confront what we cannot comprehend and stop the sacrifice of so many innocent lives.”
quote: Bishop Steven Charleston
image: Vietnamese siblings, taken by Na Son Nguyen, 2007
For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is to let it rain.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
These days and nights are extremely cold. Not something that even people who have lived in these North Carolina mountains a long time are accustomed to. This has been my home now for three years. I am beginning to remember the art of layering clothes to stay warm from my years in Colorado – just in time!!
Some of the nights have stirred with bitter winds bringing the temp to -17 and below. My assistant stayed with me overnight on one of the coldest nights last week. Worried that the power might go out or the roads could be too icy for my morning assistant to travel, she gave extra time to her job with concern and compassion. She knew if there was a problem I would not be left alone. Her offer came without request. I was and am grateful. My home is warmed with shelter and heat. There are people who check to see if I need anything. I do feel the cold but not alone.
Not true for everyone. There are many who meet these cold nights without shelter and warmth. Businesses throughout town talk about finding people asleep up against their front doors when they arrive to work each day. Not everyone has a home and shelters throughout the city fill quickly. So there are homeless people who huddle against the walls of office doorways finding some protection from wind and feeling some warmth from the building’s heat. My heart knows compassion for people homeless and lost. Like so many other things — I know I may not be able to change this but I must be aware – awareness is a part of life’s sacred journey.
I share the reflection below. May it offer a way to pray for protection, comfort and hope for those seeking shelter and those who are lost.
On cold winter nights, when Mother Earth sleeps soundly beneath her blankets of snow, the Spirit walks in silence, seeking any who have become lost on their way home. There is no life left unnoticed by God. There is no child forgotten, no elder dismissed, no prisoner unworthy of recognition, no addict left alone, no lonely soul abandoned. Even the hidden ones among us, the silent ones who try to bear their burdens unspeaking, are under the watchful eye of their Maker. On even the coldest nights, the Spirit walks the back roads and the city streets, holding the light of love just a little higher, for those who expect to see only shadow.
Bp. Steven Charleston.