After hearing about the Orlando mass shooting, my mind went silent. I don't know how to answer the silence. Is it because of desensitization over the years? This type of event has happened before? Is because of the complexity of our social world? I didn't have an answer to the day other than to just want to offer an ear and a heart to those grieving. In the silence, I was reminded of a prayer I had heard recently. Perhaps you would reflect with me?
"...I looked for someone who would grieve together with me, and there was no one..."
In the past few years, I have been trying to absorb teachings and prayers from Saint Francis of Assisi, as I believe he is someone who points to Jesus and being a good example of a follower of Jesus. Recently I found a printed copy of his daily prayer book, which he basically compiled various verses from the Psalms and Gospel texts. They are meant to be sung, especially with prayer companions. The book is titled, "the Geste of the Great King." Geste means heroics. Francis's idea (or perhaps a commonly unknown thought) is that in the Psalms we can see Jesus praying literally and personally. Francis wanted to identify with Jesus on every level. Part of identifying with Jesus is connecting with His suffering.
With the book, I later found an audio-companion cd with voices singing the prayers. While sitting in traffic, I went from spacing out to hearing part of one prayer
"I looked for someone who would grieve together with me and there was no one; and for someone who would console me and I found no one..."
Somehow I know I had heard this before, but it struck me to the heart. This is a caption from Psalm 69. In many ways, it connects to Jesus while He was on the cross. In listening, I could hear the pain of Jesus. In the pain of Jesus, I could hear Matthew 25, where He talks about those who ministered unto Him..."When I was hungry, you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink. I was in prison, and you visited Me." When was Jesus like this? "When you've done as such to the least of these, My brethren, you've done it unto Me." Hearing that echo and being reminded of the title of the book, I began to realize Jesus looked for comfort in His lowly position. And, I saw He identified with those in lowly and hurting positions. To hear His voice call out for comfort and not find it, my heart began to break for those who are in a position of crying out, with no one to help.
Psalm 69 continues about this person crying out, but also being surrounded by enemies...those who would push him down. They hate him without cause. And it struck me to ask, "Lord, how may I pray for these who are hurting?" How may I grieve with those who want someone to grieve with them? How may I pray for others who are in need, rather than just for myself?
And so in the silence after Orlando, I heard the Lord speak. How may I grieve with those who are currently grieving there? In the Lord, I have come to see the need to speak up on behalf of those who are outcasted, deserving or not. I struggle in admitting this, but I don't agree with a homosexual lifestyle, but I believe we can still be brothers and sisters in the Lord. I don't agree with Islam, but I believe we can be friends and have love towards one another. We may agree to disagree with perspectives in some areas, but I believe we can agree that all people, whatever their backgrounds, preferences, religion, or non-religion, we can offer respect, dignity, friendship, an arm's embrace.
Sadly, after Orlando, I already hear a variety of responses. Some are of sympathy, some are of judgement. Sympathy to the dead and their families, but judgement towards gays and judgement toward Muslims. I understand the fear and anger that arises after such a tragedy, but I don't believe it is a time for blame or judgement. Even the sympathizers vent their anger towards the judgemental. We will have our differences. There are people enduring pain on both sides of the spectrum. Each cry out for comfort to some degree. May we listen? Can we hear the hurting?
I'm sorry if this offends you in some way, as it's not my intention. Can we pray together?