The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!’

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Our Dancing Has Turned to Mourning"

All I can think about is this quote from Lamentations. 

Hundreds of men were dancing on Saturday, June 11th, 2016, when terror struck. One witness said at first he thought the sound of gunshots was part of the dance track. But then there were just too many shots. Now Joy is gone from their hearts. Now their dancing has turned into mourning. 

I don't have a bold new position on this issue. Others have already parsed out issues related to identity, tribalism, weapons, and religion. 

Others have rebuffed the prayers of religious communities as shallow talk. And maybe it is. 

So I look for another way to say that I am affected by you, that something connects us.  

Today, on behalf of my brothers and sisters whose dancing has turned to mourning, I took time to read Lamentations: 

Streams of tears flow from my eyes

    because my people are destroyed.

My eyes will flow unceasingly,

    without relief,
until the Lord looks down
    from heaven and sees.
What I see brings grief to my soul

Sadness and rage stir within these words, waiting for the Lord to look down to see us crying. Starting from a place of anger and outrage toward God, other people, and other people's problems seems as normal as anything can following a tragedy. Anger is a stage of grief. What I see brings grief to my soul. 

Three days after the attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last Saturday, I do not feel anger, just sadness. As details surfaced, I began to see a hurting person who hurt people. The men inside were part of a group. The person who opened fire on people dancing was part of another. In my belief system, all were created by God. 

Jew or Christian, Muslim or Mormon: our God is a God of creation. We all can agree on that

And being created by God is a big deal. It means that we have a sameness and a common ancestry.

Created in the image of God means that each other is sacred. 

We often defend our tribe and our scripture by giving them human qualities. We say our scripture is "divinely inspired," "From the mouth of God" and "God-breathed". Shouldn't we use those words to discuss each other, rather than words on a page? Isn't DNA God-breathed? And isn't our existence divinely inspired? Shouldn't our lives be focused on our commonality in God? 

Whether or not I have opinions on the issues, it is perhaps more true that I'm lamenting the loss of sacred lives.

                                  Arise, cry out in the night,

    as the watches of the night begin;

pour out your heart like water
    in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him

    for the lives of your children   

Somebody first wrote these words in a time of great sadness. Their sanctuary was taken from them. Their people were destroyed. Their feelings of safety were forever gone. 

These words continue to help me express sadness and outrage. Not toward God, or one person or a group of people, but for the human condition. We pour out our hearts like water. We cry out in the night. We lift up our hands to God for the lives of our children. 

Children of the same God.