Silent night, holy night....
Silence seems appropriate in holy moments, as we sing at Christmas time. It occurs to me silence can also be appropriate in horrific moments. Stopping the explanations, and the questions, and the descriptions and pausing a moment to ponder the magnitude of what has happened. So, I was tempted to be silent on the recent horrific shootings of small, precious children and equally precious adults. But, there are so many words being bandied about in regards to this violence. Some of them are good, important, thought provoking words. But there is also so much ridiculous, so much misunderstanding, so much cliche, so much...well just so much. I fear we talk ourselves in circles and only increase the pain. I feel a need to respond.
So, instead of remaining silent I would like to issue a call for silence. Not a silence which means doing nothing. We already failed the children of Newtown once. Let’s not fail them again by dishonoring their memory and doing nothing. Rather this would be a holy silence, respecting the grief of those who have lost. There are no explanations adequate. No definition of God will explain this horror away. Even such seemingly innocent statements as, “This is a result of sin, of humanity’s free will,” seem abhorrent to me. I am not ready to let God off the hook so easily. Surely my free will does not make God entirely impotent. And whatever your beliefs about God, the slaughter of innocents can never be dismissed as merely natural consequences.
I call us to silence but not just a moment of silence out of respect rather this would be a silence akin to the intake of breath before we speak. Let us breathe deeply, reflect deeply and inhale deeply to charge our hearts and our souls and our bodies for the work ahead. The work of changing laws, changing mental health systems, changing attitudes and interactions, changing what we teach our children by what we say and what we do.
The shooting in Newtown was a horror which we failed to work to prevent. Let us take a breath, reflect and then set about doing what we can to prevent such horrors in the future.