When a horrific event happens, as happened in Las Vegas overnight, I’m torn between competing impulses:
• To cry for justice.
• To shut up.
The two impulses aren’t necessarily contradictory. One can hope for justice and still have a sense that the loss of live deserves a little reverence, a little silent contemplation, a little bit of awe for the horror we humans can visit upon one another.
We’re really good, as a society, at arguing about what’s right, but we’re really shitty at taking the moment for silence. This is understandable: To take that moment feels like conceding important rhetorical ground to people we don’t really believe have our best interests at heart.
I think it’s still important anyway.
So here’s the prayer I composed around the time of the Orlando massacre. It continues to be useful, unfortunately.
Lord, forgive me.
Lord, forgive me my need to make a point right away when tragedy happens instead of taking a moment to lament and grieve.
Lord, forgive me my refusal to see the fears that other people have and to understand how those fears shape their responses to each other, and to the tragedies of the day.
Lord, forgive me for failing to discern evil where it exists, and for inferring evil from mere disagreement.
Lord, forgive me for the anger that springs up in my heart when people refuse to give me and my friends the benefit of the doubt.
Lord, forgive me my failure to give the benefit of the doubt.
Lord, forgive me for any action that compounds the evil of an evil act.
Lord, guide me to help create peace and diminish injustice where evil is done.
Lord, forgive me my refusal to shut the hell up.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
Lord: Comfort and bless the families of those who suffer tonight.
I will come girded for battle tomorrow. Today, I mourn.