by Laurie Gudim
As I was praying the names of the people killed in the shooting in Buffalo, N. Y., a deep anger welled up in me, and I began to weep. I am so tired of this! Ever since the death of Matthew Shepard in 1998, I have been afraid. I am scared all over again every time I hear of any other unbalanced man lashing out and killing innocent people. It could so easily be me. Will the stranger at our church coffee hour suddenly stuff our locks with super glue and pull out a gun? Will the guy fingering the avocados in the produce aisle suddenly reach into his jacket and pull out an automatic rifle? Will some demented and entitled dictator send his nuclear weapons against us? I am scared every day, and in my fear I am angry and exhausted. And I want to ignore these things. I want to stuff them away and try to forget and go on.
Today in our Gospel reading we eavesdrop on Jesus saying goodbye to his disciples. They are scared, too. They are gathered in the darkness of the night before he will be arrested, tortured, and killed. Enemies lurk all around, and his followers know they are not safe. He says to them, ”those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
My experience of people making their homes with me is that it is extremely disruptive. When I adopted my children my entire life changed overnight. When my sister came, and then my partner moved in with me, huge adjustments followed, each time. Making room for others to come so deeply into my life has never been an easy thing.
And how does the triune God disrupt me as They live with me today? They are not a newcomer, that’s for sure. They have rearranged the furniture countless times.
Today as I feel my heart fill with anger and my eyes with tears They do not let me turn away. Instead They are just here with me lending their lament to mine. They disrupt my desire to flee – to bury my head in the sand. They disrupt my sense of continuity, my absurd belief that nothing is really wrong. “Face the bleak darkness,” They tell me. “You are not ever standing in it alone.”
They do not take away the pain, the fear, and the anger that are the natural response to the shootings. I need those feelings, and God’s peace doesn’t mean they are absent. Instead, God pushes me further into them. God pushes me into really seeing. And then God gives me hope.
I have to keep my eyes open to the spiral humanity is in, circling the drain of planet-poisoning, racism, and wanton violence. Things are terrible right now, and it is going to get a lot worse. It’s going to get a whole lot worse. I don’t see a way out.
But God has been here before, many times. Look at the madness and mayhem in the Hebrew scriptures. God has circled this drain before. God is the kernel of hope at the bottom of the awfulness. And God will accompany us through all the darkest pain and most unthinkable violence. In God there is a “through”. That’s the hope. In God there is a “through.”