Last week at conference, one guy who works in the far north talked about the pain in one small community from a few tragedies that had happened. He "did the math" and hypothetically multiplied the tragedies to fit a larger city - the numbers were staggering. He said, "If you don't think that would deeply impact an entire community...."
I've been thinking about that this week. Two tragedies in particular. One, right in my city, a young father and husband, kidnapped and murdered for no apparent reason. Maybe for a truck. No one knows yet. The other, just down the road, another father and husband, a pastor, who died suddenly after a long struggle with depression. He did all the things you're supposed to do, got counseling, etc. But in the end, it wasn't enough.
I am not personally connected to either of these stories. But both stories connect with communities of faith, Christian faith to be exact; both are local to me; and in both cases, some people in my own congregation have a personal connection, although I don't.
So my community is hurting. My city hurts. I don't have the power to fix any of it, but in both of these stories it is clear that there is a strong faith community surrounding the victims and their families. I am so grateful for this. There will, of course, be stupid things said; most of us don't know what to say in tragic moments, and so we blurt something out and wonder later why we said it. That will happen again. Nevertheless, at times like this, it is meaningful to have a community of people around you with whom you share faith, with whom you have already been connected. I am glad that exists in both of these cases.
Yesterday I sent a note to both churches, on behalf of mine, expressing sympathy and support, and letting them know that we are praying for them even though we don't really know each other. It's all I know to do. My congregation will continue to pray for God to help, for grace to heal, for peace to soothe, and for justice and truth to rise up. We will continue to pray for our city, our community, aching deeply, even as we go on with the daily things of life.
Because it does go on, life that is, relentlessly. The sun continues to rise, lilacs continue to bloom, laughter unexpectedly bubbles up even in the midst of pain. And life goes on, though some things are changed permanently, terribly.
Today, may God be with you, whispering hope and peace to you.