Today I heard some devastating news. One of my seminary professors has died. But he didn’t just die, he first shot his long time partner and then he shot himself. Every system in my body shut down for several moments. It wasn’t like how I felt when I heard about the massacre in Orlando or at Mother Immanuel. Those events made my heart race and my anger flare. No. This time my heart stopped and it felt like the world was ending.
I only had Dr Moore for one class, but it was a life-changer. He broadened my world and helped me find my bravery. Once when talking after class I told him how vulnerable I was feeling. During the course of the conversation he gave me advice I hope I never forget. “Never become a fundamentalist of yourself.”
I did not know him well. I never met his partner, Margaret Shanahan. I admired them both from afar mostly. Now I wish I had been more forthright with my interest in them as people. Not that I think it would have made a whit of difference in the outcome of their lives … just to make a connection.
Dr. Moore was a hero of mine. I didn’t realize that until this morning. I don’t know why this tragedy happened but I do know that he is still a hero for me. This last year I have come to understand more than ever before that we are very complicated inside and out. The depth of that just increased.
The news becomes more and more clear about what happened in Orlando, Florida at the nightclub called Pulse. Phrases like “Deadliest mass shooting in the U.S.” and “Names of gun massacre victims released” throb in my heart with an emotional arrhythmia. But my claims on sorrow and grief are nothing compared to the families of those who experienced the terror and to the Orlando community.
What is happening to us? What is happening in the U.S.? I have read comments that commended this violence as the work of God. At these words … no, at this belief … my heart explodes in pain.
In the early ’80’s I went to gay clubs to dance and be myself in a way I could not be in public. I didn’t have to explain myself or listen patiently while I was told I was going to hell or needed psychiatric treatment. I went knowing that our joy with shields down could come to an end in a moment if someone with violent intent entered our sanctuary. I danced anyway.
Now we have some laws which protect some rights of LBGTQQIAA folks.But laws don’t change hearts. Relationships change hearts. Talking through disagreements changes hearts. Listening deeply to one another – through faith and fear – changes hearts.
I ask you to pray today about this massacre at Pulse in Orlando, FL. For those who have died. For those who are injured. For those who are filled with terror. For the families of the victims. For those who need prayer in whatever way and for whatever reason.
Today is a day of deep listening to the pain of violence. Today is a day of prayer to transform hateful hearts to loving hearts. Today is a day of crying in grief for the terror that the people in Pulse experienced. Today is a day to find strength from the Sacred and Holy. Today is a day to hold the past and the present while setting our faces like flint to the future, walking in Pride and Faith. This nation we live in is not one nation, indivisible. We must work, sweat, pray, and come together shedding our hate and reaching for hope. If we believe in Liberty and Justice for all in this land we have to think, love, and live differently. Today is a day that God is weeping rainbow tears. What will we do tomorrow?