Place: treadmill at the gym
Time: 4:30 a.m.
What: When I heard about the mass shooting in a historically black church in Charleston, S.C.
Why: That is my question. Why does anyone come to a prayer meeting with a group of people, sit with them for a time, and then pull a gun and kill them? How can anyone hear another person praying–praying!–and kill that person? But really, I know the answer. Hate.
My second question: How will the community respond? Will this spark violence? Or will this community join together and support the church? Will we see everyone, regardless of race, say, “This should NEVER happen! Black lives matter. We won’t tolerate injustice, racial oppression, anything that stands in the way of true equality. We will not allow this to destroy our community. We will not allow this act of hatred to bring more hatred into the world. We will stand together!” Will we see that? That’s what I wondered.
As I walked on the treadmill, I prayed for this church, these victims, these survivors, their families, everyone touched by their lives. I was in tears as I saw the initial response. Tears, yes, but also people holding hands, responding with the most powerful weapon a human has: prayer.
I want to say this to these courageous, grieving, praying people:
You inspire me. So often, I feel my prayers are bouncing off a ceiling, like God isn’t paying attention.
You have reminded me that God is listening. That he does feel our pain. That he does grieve over injustice, like we do. That he does feel outrage and holy anger over racism and oppression and injustice. That he uses us, faulty and flawed as we are, to bring about justice and reconciliation. That to him, lives matter: not just mine, not just white people’s lives, but your life, in ways we can’t even comprehend because they’re so vast and deep. When I watched you praying, I sensed that you know your lives–your black lives–matter to God. Keep praying.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by these deaths.