This week has been bad. I don’t know the adjectives to describe how bad. It started with tragedy for too many people as the rest of the nation watched with horror, prayed in sympathy, and helped in kindness. But the week refused to stop there.
Monday’s bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon was followed by Wednesday’s warehouse explosion in West, TX which was followed by Friday’s shooting of an MIT police officer in Watertown, MA.
Before all of this my week started with a tweet reminding us that this week included the anniversaries of the deadly end of the Waco siege (April 19, 1993), the Oklahoma city bombing (April 19, 1997), the Columbine school shooting (April 20, 1999), and the Virgina Tech shooting (April 16, 2007). The last six months have not been kind to us. A mass shooting in an elementary school in Sandy Hook CT on December 14, 2012. At least 2,244 gun deaths since then. (link)
We live in a violent world. As I said on Good Friday, Incarnation was always going to end in pain, suffering, and death. (link) I believe we are capable of not only taking measures to mitigate how much violence is possible, but to enact less pain and suffering on our brothers and sisters. However, in the moments of this week, in the midst of massive pain and suffering alongside the stresses of life that we already live with, I need help surviving. Sometimes YouTube videos of kittens, pandas, and penguins are enough. This week they are not. This week the everything is too much. The stress, the pain of the world is pushing my stress meter too far up.
This week I need help practicing the belief that life goes on. I need help practicing hope. I need help practicing gratitude. I need help practicing joy. I am not a person who regularly writes out lists of things I am grateful. But the science says it works. So, in no particular order:
- Friends. In general but especially that handful of people who give me the gift of letting me be myself in their presence. I hope you all know who you are.
- A job I love. I spend (a lot of) my hours doing work that I love. People ask me into their lives, trust me with their concerns, and invite me to help represent our Church.
- I get to preach to Gospel and preside at Eucharist. I know that this seems like it should be part of #2 but I really love my job. It’s hard not to make these separate items, really.
- My dog has started playing. I mean really playing. He now steals the toy from me in tug of war. 2 1/2 years ago that didn’t happen, he was 65 lbs and I would win tug of war because he didn’t know what was going on. We’ve also cut 4-9 minutes off our mile time for a walk. Some of that is we’re faster, more of it is we spend less time on behavior corrections.
- My family. They have never not supported me. Whether in seeking ordination (and thus complicating weekends and holidays forever), moving across the country for seminary, or by buying me Biblical commentaries for Christmas. They love me in all of my uber-geeky-ness.
I know this solves nothing. But it helps me remember that we live in a violent world, but we do not live in a solely violent world. Perhaps most importantly, we live. We continue to muddle through our lives. Getting up, practicing hope and love and gratitude, facing all of the things that happen. Praying that we will make it through.
Let us pray
This is another day, O Lord, I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen. (BCP, pg 461)
There is more to be grateful for than what I have listed. I believe we could all use some practicing this week. Please tell me some of things you are grateful for.