My heart has been so heavy for the pain inflicted across Orlando last weekend. If I could turn back time, I'd take it all away in an instant.
I've experienced a wash of so many emotions after hearing details of Sunday morning's terror at Pulse and it hasn't subsided much; every time I turn on the radio or pop open my news app, it's there. My heart goes out to those people who experienced the horror first-hand, a thousand times more painful and frightening and grief-stricken than me hearing radio broadcasts. I've tried to put my jumbled thoughts in order as a way to give my deep-feeling heart some solace.
This is my little way to say I see your pain, I love you, I'm sorry, and I'm praying that peace and hope can rise above suffering.
To those who are mourning the loss of friends, family and loved ones: I am mourning with you. I am so sorry. There are no adequate words. I hope someone hugs you for me and I hope you find strength in the days to come.
To Orlando: I pray that your government will be empowered to work swiftly and effectively to bring healing, restoration, and justice where voids have been left in the wake of gunfire and death. May you come alongside each other as a community to grieve and counsel and honor and rebuild after such a nightmare come true, and may you find a strength in your togetherness to support those who are hurting. May you lift each other up to life and may the hands and feet of mercy be mobilized throughout your city.
To the LGBTQ and Pulse community: I am grieving with you in the wake of this immense act of terror and injustice, and I would take it all away in a heartbeat if I could. It is unthinkable that someone could act out with this level of violence against a community he doesn't understand, and it is a living nightmare that the unthinkable has come true. I hope you will be surrounded by others who love and care for and support you in the coming weeks and months as you process and cope with trauma and the loss of friends and family. I hope that somehow you will be given a strength to reach out and come alongside others in the midst of your pain; that you can bear the burdens of your fellow humans. Maybe the weight can be lessened by sharing it. I pray that through the pain and darkness you will find a hope that withstands the test of bullets and a peace that overtakes death. May you be surprised by a light of grace that sees all and knows all and welcomes all - pain, grief, anger, fear - and invites you to rest from the turmoil. Maybe somehow you will be given the strength to love your enemies and bless those who curse you - a strength from a Power outside yourself that has stood the test of time and death and shame and been victorious. There is a peace that's inexplicable and above reasoning and beyond the realm of understanding and it is free for the taking. I hope you find it and hold it fast.
To the Muslim community of Orlando and across the US: I am angry with you and offended with you at the words of hate and exclusion that you have already experienced. If I could turn back time and stop it all from happening, I would. But since the terror is done and the unthinkable has happened, I hope you can find a strength to withstand the difficulties you are about to face with dignity. I pray that you will find and accept and cling to the peace that survives when understanding doesn't, and that you will find the hope that is steady through the times when your belief falters and your faith wavers.
To the family and friends of Omar Mateen: I'm sure you are living in such a state of shock and disbelief after the events of the weekend. I cannot really fathom all the emotions you may be experiencing, but I pray that as the fog lifts you will be given strength to go forward in dignity. I pray that truth will become clear to you, that grace will be a powerful force to reckon with, and that hope will outlast everything else.
To those of you like me, who are removed from the nightmare but still shaken by the newscasts and articles and radio broadcasts: Now is not the time to be silent. Our fellow humans are reeling from an unimaginable pain and if there is some small way we can bear some of it, in a handshake or a text or a hug or a little blog post, let's rise to the responsibility. Let's give hope. Let's talk about eternity and life and things that matter and go deep into the shared heart of humanity to find that common thread that laces us all together: a need to be saved from this often hellish world. Let's speak of everlasting peace and a new world where suffering will be gone from our memory and fear will be no more. Let's stand together.
#PrayersForOrlando. We love you.
The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:9-10)