Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).
Within a week, Orlando, Florida became a center not of vacations and celebrations but of grief and mourning. There a deranged fan shot and killed singer Christina Grimmie. An alligator killed two-year old boy at Disneyworld. An angry, disturbed young man identifying himself with ISIS killed 49 people at a gay night club before killing himself in the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
Everyone knows. Everyone feels overwhelmed. But not everyone deals with feeling overwhelmed the same way. Some move quickly toward favorite solutions to gun violence. Others advocate building discriminatory walls. Others honor the victims in the night club shooting, while others still blame them from graceless religious perspectives.
Are those the only choices? Well, there is also mourning. One could just be with the pain. One could dwell in sympathy for bereaved parents and hearts broken in times and places that should be joyful. But what good would that do?
It does immeasurable good. We live in constant helplessness. Efforts to solve gun violence that get bogged down in political gridlock uphold the status quo but keep most of us vulnerable. We cannot count on our children’s safety even at Disneyworld. Anxiety rules. We develop compassion fatigue. Unless…
Unless we allow ourselves to mourn. Mourning defies the numbness that grows with constant helplessness, fear, and compassion fatigue. Mourning refuses to give in.
Consequently, mourning preserves the compassion we need to take action, to keep working toward finding common ground and solutions. Growing more polarized, suspicious, cynical, apathetic, and unsympathetic to suffering results from caving to the numbness that mourning defies.
Let yourself cry. Attend a candlelight vigil. Ask your pastor to let you read a Psalm of lament in church. Voice your compassion, send it to those who suffer in Orlando and who suffer with you vicariously all over the country.
Sure, mourning is not enough. We must take action. We must work toward justice and mercy. But if we bypass mourning on the way, we will not work skillfully. Fear, anger, and depression will guide us more than the God who called us to a vocation of love.
Mourning is an act of faith, hope, and love. It is prophecy, calling out and defying the forces of injustice by refusing the numbness that sustains evil. It is prayer, offering your anguish to the one God who holds all the anguish of the world, yours and that of your friends and enemies, in one, infinite heart of suffering love.
Only in that heart will we finally meet in peace. Only in that heart will we and those who mourn inconsolably finally find real comfort.
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