In this week after another mass shooting, this time 26 people killed in their place of worship last Sunday, my heart has been heavy. Should we have had another service of lament, ringing our bells for those who died? How do we decide when to do this, and when not? Should we gather after every mass shooting? That would mean weekly services if we look at how often they occur. Is there a number of people, or location, that tips the scales to yes or no? Do we just do it when we next reach the benchmark of ‘deadliest mass shooting in modern history,’ like after Las Vegas last month?
These are the questions that keep my up at night, that haunt my prayers, because the desire to come together to pray and lament loss is part of who we are as humans, and as Christians. How we grieve is both universal and personal. There is no one right way to grieve, but there are some parts of grieving that we all experience. And, I’ve learned over the course of ministry, that we can learn a lot about grieving from one another.
This is why I’m thankful that among the flotsam and jetsam of my social media feed this week I came across a 14 minute video called The House of Mourning. Kate Braestrup, Chaplain for Maine’s Game Warden Service, weaves her own narrative of losing her husband, with the story of 5 year old Nina whose 4 year old cousin Andy has died in an accident. It is a powerful story of death and life – and what she learned about grieving from this little girl. I hope you will take the time to watch the video below or listen to the story.
I don’t have answers to my earlier questions. I would value hearing from you about when you think it would be helpful for us to gather together when we experience these national tragedies. But I what I do know is that there is power in grieving and prayers of lament to God. However we enter into this today, and every day, let us remember that God is always present, embracing us – crying with us – grieving with us – loving us.
Yours in God’s peace,