A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Being a Barrier to the Darkness: A Tribute to One Who Was

Events occurred this week that brought me back in contact with a faith community that I was part of years ago.  Hearing from these wonderful people reminded me of a blog I had read a few months ago http://rachelheldevans.com/blessed-are-the-uncool  which says in part:
...I want to be part of an un-cool church because I want to be part of a community that shares the reputation of Jesus, and like it or not, Jesus’ favorite people in the world were not cool. They were mostly sinners, misfits, outcasts, weirdos, poor people, sick people, and crazy people.”  
I don’t mean to say that we were all weird...well maybe just a little:)  What I mean is that community was full of a variety of people, with differing opinions and all authentically themselves.  Some of them even dared to be un-cool.  I miss them.  
I was brought back in touch with these folks this week by an event that has my mind reeling.  One of our members, Margaret, was shot and killed.  She was the Park Ranger whom you may have heard about on the news.  It has been years since I last saw Margaret and yet I was deeply saddened.  This was a person whom I knew to be kind and gentle.  For her to die in such a violent way is so tragic and so wrong.  
Much will be said in the coming weeks about the gunman.  Why he did it, could it have been prevented, etc.  Pastor Jayne Thompson, who was the pastor of the above mentioned faith community, wrote an article that expresses many of my thoughts upon all of that. Click this link to read it: http://www.thelutheran.org/blog/comments.cfm?blog_id=1713
Here I would like to focus on what Margaret did.  
I don’t want to call Margaret a hero.  That sounds way too romantic.  There is nothing romantic about the bloody, violent way this dear person died.  There is nothing romantic about the excruciating pain her husband is in right now.  There is nothing romantic about two fabulous little girls facing life without their mommy and bearing the weight of grief on their tiny little frames.  For Margaret's parents, there is nothing romantic about burying their child.  
Margaret died just doing her job.  She died being a good person who chose her career out of a love for nature.  She died following her training and living her life and doing her job to the best of her abilities.  In the process, she put her car and herself between a violent person and those he might harm.  
How would the world look if we all did the same?  I don’t mean that we should all become Rangers or literally put our bodies in front of bullets.  I just mean, what if we all lived our lives doing our best at our work and at home and in the process put ourselves between the darkness in the world and the people who might be harmed by that darkness?  
There are countless ways we could do this.  This being the time of the year for resolutions, combined with the fact that I just read three books about children living in poverty (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, What You Wish For by various authors), brings to mind one way we could do this.  What if we put our bulky bodies in between the darkness of greed and people who live in hunger?  What if we changed the way we look at food and began to realize that our rich diets are a luxury that come at the cost of others?  What if instead of spending money on diet programs we read books like the ones I mentioned and made the connection between our eating and the plight of the starving by sending a dollar to charity every time we managed to go a day without over indulging?  
We could put our selves between our children and materialism by resolving to wear the mute button out on our remotes refusing to watch commercials that attempt to convince us to buy things we don’t need.  We could put ourselves between our country and those who would divide us by refusing to watch political commercials, political debates, and any news that contains the opinions of the Democrats vs. the opinions of the Republicans.   We could put ourselves between our soldiers and the horrors of war by deciding that there must be better ways to resolve conflicts and encouraging our politicians to seek those out even if it means some sacrifice on our part. 
There are countless ways we could all live our everyday lives in ways so that we would become a barrier for the darkness in the world.  Perhaps if we did, tragedies like what happened to Margaret would be a thing of the past.  
I realize I have covered a lot of ground here.  I don’t know that Margaret would agree with all that I have said. The events of the week have left my mind whirling with so many thoughts it is difficult to pin any of them down.  I guess my point is: a fitting tribute to Margaret might be resolving to be a barrier to the darkness in some small way and thus moving toward a world that is a safer place for her children.  Let it be so.

1 comment:

Wanda Nelson said...

There is so much in the Evangelical Church of America that I do not agree with. I have become an ELCA cynic. I am a part of this body because Andover Lutheran Church is part of this body.
But one of the tiny, off-the-cuff good things that God is bringing out of the tragedy of Margaret Anderson's death is that I am able to see good in this church body. I am able to see wonderful people at work in ministry to--in this case--young people, to develop an un-cool and deep faith. And I see the result that God brings from this, in particular, in Sheri and, from a distance and from the conviction of others, in this dear child of God Margaret.
I too am deeply saddened by the fact that she will not be the influence on the tiny children that God had given her and that I sense she would have been. Her husband will need the close presence of the Lord and a loving, committed community intimately around him for both him and his girls to survive in good health.
I pray for him and his daughters and this community as God takes him through this process of deep grief and sustained grief.
We all know of death. We know death comes close more times than we realize because we are so vulnerable. We know death smacks us right in our souls at times, and we are forever changed. Who we were coming into this experience is not the same person who emerges. We pray for that emergence, for ourselves and for this young husband and his girls. And we pray that the Lord Jesus is fully involved in that emergence. May His love carry us all, and especially them, through.