In Shadow and Grief.
I am heartbroken. I am reaching out because I know you are, too.
Just ten days after a 19-year-old walked into a grocery store in Buffalo, NY and massacred ten people, an 18-year-old walked into an elementary school classroom in Uvalde, Texas and massacred nineteen children and two teachers. As of this moment, that is the count.
Both were armed with easily accessible high-powered weapons. And in between the shooting in Buffalo on May 14 and the shooting in Texas on May 24 are the shootings in Ohio and South Carolina and Indiana and Washington and Florida and California and Louisiana and Illinois and Pennsylvania and California and North Carolina and North Carolina and Texas and Texas.
As the reports about Texas were still coming in, my dear friend Nelba Márquez-Greene whose beautiful daughter Ana Grace was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT, ten years ago, took to social media with profound grace and compassion to encourage people who felt like giving up. Nelba acknowledged that “we live in a stew of horrible,” and she also said that there is still worthiness in the fight to stay alive.
“When we love people,” Nelba said, “we keep them safe, and we are not keeping them safe… We don’t need cowardice right now. We need courage.”
Though I am really struggling myself, I know that there is indeed worthiness in the fight to stay engaged, the fight to continue to feel. We cannot go numb.
Sometimes, in the hardest times and on the hardest matters, words are inadequate. Foul, even. Who are we who meet blood-splattered classrooms with holy hubris? As we sit in silence with the magnitude of this pain, we need not be action-less.
Let us note and observe:
The legislators and faith leaders who rise with glib assurances and crocodile tears and prayers that always amount to nothingness without plans for change.
Our neighbors who respond by erecting even more barriers of protection around their ‘right’ to own these weapons that serve no other purpose than for the killing of human beings.
Let us also note, take care of, and be gentle with:
The helpers, the healers, the protectors.
The children, the teachers.
The families who mourn.
Our neighbors who are traumatized.
I am nevertheless hopeful. There are solutions. Many of them are easy. Our polarizations and separateness keep them out of reach.
I remain hopeful because of the power of our dreams. That vision of a world of flourishing—for everyone—compels me to rest, to breathe, to love, to hope, to dream and to keep working forward. To not give up. To hold on to you. To hold on to the light in unbearable times.
I offer us a blessing in our heartbreak:
“Blessed are you who bear the light in unbearable times, who testify to its endurance amid the unendurable, who bear witness to its persistence when everything seems in shadow and grief.”
Join March for Our Lives. Learn about the policy solutions youth who’ve experienced gun violence are rallying for, and work with them to make them real.
Image Credit: William Wetmore Story, 1819-1895. Angel of Grief