No, I haven’t experienced a personal loss, disaster, or break up. I’m broken hearted about the number of people who have been killed while at worship.
This isn’t meant to be a political screed, but a personal reflection on what is happening.
Are you old enough to remember places of worship being unlocked throughout the week, all night? No matter what time, you could always find a place of worship open somewhere in a city. Sometimes a priest or minister staffed them. Sometimes they were empty except for the worshippers who tucked in for a bit of quiet contemplation of something greater than themselves.
I’m old enough to remember. In three of the largest cities in the world, I always felt I could find church or temple open to welcome me.
No longer. Too many churches can’t trust people to enter without desecrating the sanctuary. Churches have been robbed. Their treasures have been stolen. Their sanctuaries trashed, furniture broken, hate-speech spray-painted on walls.
And now, the worst descrecration of all: the slaughter of people practicing their faith. Whether it’s a gunman entering a Jewish synagogue, an African-American church, mosques in multiple countries, the end result is a descrecation of ourselves, of our collective souls. Maybe it’s bombs falling into a mosque in a conflict zone, killing helpless women and children. Maybe it was a bomb detonated at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963 and killing four young girls. It doesn’t matter. It’s all hatred.
While we can’t turn back the clock and erase the damage done to our souls, we can look deep inside and see the good in so many of us. We can look beyond the color of someone’s skin and see the dreams and desires within. We can learn from people of different religions. We can accept differences and similarities. We can see people for who they are.
My heart breaks at every death. Some murderers think what they do is righteous. They publish manifestos bragging about why they’ll do something. They want us to remember their names, laud their dedication, understand they are fighting a righteous fight against the government, society, people of different faiths. You get the idea.
I refuse to remember their names. I will remember the horror they inflicted on so many families, so many friends. And my heart will break just a little more the next time it happens.