By Sister Christine Parks
This morning I had to toss out what I had begun writing for this blog—something “poetic” about August, the month when summer begins its slow stroll toward Autumn and harvest time. After the news of two more mass shootings on the first weekend of this month (El Paso and Dayton) all of that poeticism felt more than a bit frivolous, and disrespectful to those who were victims of the shootings, their families, and to the very serious state of our nation these days.
So having let go of my first draft, I’m left sitting here, heart bruised, mind reeling, fingers poised over the keyboard, wondering: what’s left to say? What’s left after all the news coverage and analysis; after all the words of experts, and comments of survivors of prior violence; after all the tears of those who have lost loved ones to another inconceivable act of gun violence; after the trauma or numbness of seeing and hearing over and over the details of two more of these horrendous acts.
One response could be to simply stop—stop listening to and watching the news, stop reading the reports whether in print or online, stop talking, over coffee, lunch, the “watercooler”, about another unthinkable event (and how many unthinkable events are required before we begin to think this is our new normal? And I know some who have.) This option, however doesn’t help, doesn’t ease the pain, doesn’t stop the hatred, doesn’t eliminate the fear that it can (and probably will) happen again, and again—and maybe next time in my city. Although, actually, it already has happened where I live.
Like many of you, I also bring this to prayer. Praying for those who lost their lives, the injured, families and friends, and even for the shooter—for the healing of all those whose anger, pain, suffering, hatred bring them to this place of unholy violence. But even that doesn’t feel like enough, not when I know what lurks in the depth of my own mind and heart sometimes. Perhaps any prayer for a change of heart must begin with my own.
As a community, sisters and associates, who believe wholeheartedly in the union of all creation in a loving compassionate God, we stand with all those striving to bring about an end to violence and hatred. We stand with all those who are willing to write, act, work—and yes—pray for a change of heart for our nation and world. Some days my personal contribution doesn’t feel like that much, but when added to yours, and yours, and yours it increases exponentially; becomes part of the field of compassion that spreads out from every heart (yours and mine) and makes space for healing and love to grow.
About the Author
Sister Christine Parks formerly served as a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph Leadership Team. She currently serves as a Spiritual Director, and occasional program presenter, with Transformations Spirituality Center in Kalamazoo. Her leisure activities include gardening, long walks in nature, reading, writing, attending plays and concerts, as well as museums.