(I know, I know, I disappear for weeks and then don’t post about pilgrimage at all. Maybe that’ll happen later. This is my Thursday afternoon response to the shooting on Wednesday.)
Living with It
It came in last night through my eyes. Not my ears; thankfully, the sound was muted on my newsfeed.
I couldn’t deal with it then, so I tried to put it away, and it hid in the knot in my neck.
When I woke up this morning, it was throbbing in the back of my head, but I didn’t remember what it was.
I tried to stop the throbbing with food and caffeine, but everything tasted bland, and the heart behind my right ear kept on beating—breaking.
Oh right, that’s why today feels wrong. I remember the image of the ash cross on a woman’s forehead as she held a girl’s body. I remember her awful grief and why I rushed to get it away from my eyes and out of my mind. But this time it won’t go back to my neck. It drops to my chest instead.
I drag it to worship with me. It stays in my chest but grows into my throat, and I cannot sing through the tears.
It’s not just the woman with the ashes on her forehead or the girl watching her best friend get shot down. It’s also the memory of the time I spent in the high school library with my friends one April 16th, praying we would not see any of their parents or siblings on the news. It’s the new normalcy of the Intruder Alert drill we learned the following year where we hid in closets and on floors while the teacher made it look like no one was in the classroom. It’s Pulse and Columbine and Emanuel in Charleston and Sixteenth Street in Birmingham. It’s the end of whatever sanctuary we once thought we could offer to our most vulnerable loved ones.
When the time comes to voice our prayers, my heart screams but my voice barely whispers:
What will it take, God? How many children must die? How many children must see their friends die? How many parents must live in this fear before enough people care to make it stop? Have you hardened our leaders’ hearts or did they do this to themselves? Why do we suffer while the wicked prosper? Do you care? Does anyone care?
Blessed be your name, I guess. You give and take away. I don’t understand how the world can hurt so much and an all-powerful God can do so little about it. I like thinking that you suffer with us, but I sincerely hope that doesn’t mean you, too, are frozen in a fetal position, sobbing while the world falls apart, powerless to stop us from destroying ourselves and the ones we love.
…My words fall away. It is still in my chest, tapping into the arteries that spread it throughout my body, but I think God has taken some of the weight of it to carry with me.