The shadow of sadness hovers over me this morning after the horrendous mass shooting in the little Baptist Church in Sutherland, Texas, yesterday morning. It could have happened here in my little town, or in one of the little rural churches nearby. It could have happened anywhere. Those who think, “Nothing ever happens in little towns,” are mistaken. A little more than ten years ago (October 2006) it happened not many miles from where I live at a little one-room Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where five girls (age 6-13) were killed by a deranged person.
Both the media and the nation were baffled by the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation extended by the Amish community after the incident. The book, Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, written by Donald Kraybill, Stephen Nolt, and Daniel L. Weaver-Zercher, tells the story. In 2010, Lifetime Movie Network presented a television movie-version of the book. It was the highest rated movie on Lifetime that year.
If we are called to serve our fellow human beings, to be “Foot-Washers,” as I suggested yesterday, then it is incumbent on clergy, religious communities, artists, farmers, laborers of all sorts, authors, actors, film directors, teachers, retirees, and those who work in Walmart, McDonald’s and in universities (everybody) to lift up the very best of what it means to be human. Our “service” is to emphasize the enrichment of human life, a movement toward better things, rather than emphasizing its debasement. Our task or service to one another is to emphasize the mountain-tops accessible to everyone, which are just as real as the cesspools.
Forgiveness is better than hate. Reconciliation is better than division. Kindness is better than meanness. Redemption is possible—failure is not the end of the story. Reverence is better than irreverence. Honesty is better than deceit. Giving is better than greed. Hope is better than despair. Knowledge is better than ignorance. Diversity is better than sameness. Community is better than disparity. Our service is to help one another find a “beautiful life,” to transcend what is not yet, and find what is meant to be, even in the midst of our tears.
|Even the rose sheds tears--|
and yet, continues to bloom.