My heart is heavy because of the tragic killings and carnage at the mosques in Christchurch yesterday. Shock, disbelief, horror were my initial reactions. Then acceptance of the truth of the reports followed by frequent checking of updates. It seems the death toll will be around 49 lives lost, as well as many injured.
In some way I must process what has happened and respond, it’s essential for me to do this. My heart cries out for the lives lost, the injuries suffered, the enormous harm that has occurred, and for the affected families and friends who have suffered loss.
Comfort and healing began this morning when I found a rare post from “the dune mouse” aka Cybele Moon titled The Sacred Pause and I was soothed by her beautiful images and words. This photo really touched my heart and I have Cybele’s kind permission to share it here.
I see a sinuous path through woods with light shining through. The tree trunks are dark and details misty but the ground is warmly lit by the light filtering through. There is darkness and light in our lives and in the world, and our paths are unpredictable. But the light is always there, ready to shine through the darkness, bringing healing, warmth and hope.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
— Both Bible verses quoted here are from the NIV version
From our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern a message for those directly affected I have copied a two-paragraph extract here:
“For those of you who are watching at home tonight and questioning how this could have happened here, we, New Zealand, we are not a target because we are a safe harbour for those who hate, we were not chosen for this violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism, we were chosen for the fact we represent none of these things. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it.”
“And those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack. We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities, 160 languages and amongst that diversity we share common values and the one that we place the currency on right now and tonight is our compassion and the support for the community of those directly affected by this tragedy”
Not long after I started blogging I found and followed the WP blog Looking for God in messy places a blog by Bishop Jake Owensby. Jake is Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Western Louisiana (USA) and has been an immense help and encouragement to me personally. I emailed him and invited a contribution to this post.
Jake’s response at the beginning of his reply was:
“My heart goes out to all the victims, the victims’ families, and the people of NZ. As I’m sure you know, gun violence has become an epidemic in the US. Mass shootings occur with shocking frequency.”
And he included a note for me to share if I wish (as follows):
I am a bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States. The House of Bishops had gathered for one of its twice-a-year meetings when the news of the tragedy in New Zealand broke.
No stranger to gun violence and mass killings ourselves, we grieve deeply for the victims and their families. Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry led us in offering prayer for you at our meeting today. Our prayers will continue tonight and in the days ahead. Blessed rest for the departed. Peace and consolation for those who mourn. Conversion of all human hearts from violence to love for neighbor. Every neighbor.
Racism motivated this massacre. Like my bishop colleagues and millions of others, I find this irrational hatred of difference repugnant. I believe that each and every human being is a beloved child of God. There is only one race: the human race. Brown or white. Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist. We are all God’s beloved. All deserving respect.
We belong to each other as siblings of a single family. And there lies the source of my grief. This tragedy has happened not merely to people of a religion different from mine on a far distant shore. You are a part of me. I am a part of you.
As John Donne said, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” With millions of other Americans of every race and creed, I stand with you in your time of sorrow.
God bless you. God love you. God heal your fractured hearts.
— Note from Bishop Jake Owensby https://jakeowensby.com/blog/
The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, PhD, DD
Bishop of The Episcopal Church in Western Louisiana
Posted by Liz, Exploring Colour (2019)
Also, an encouraging post that I read today by WP blogger and fine-art photographer (California) Michael Scandling: Now More Than Ever…