What Now?

by Rev. Aaron Payson

I’ve been trying for days to find words to speak to the horror, again, of a nightclub shooting spree where people went to celebrate only for their lives to be taken so violently.  And then this morning the news of another mass shooting in Virginia as people shopped for holiday fixings. These are the ones that make the news while a thousand other acts of gun violence barely make the sixth page of the newspaper.  It is enough to make one catatonic and silent.  

Here’s what I do when I get to that point.  I look for the stories within the story.  I want to learn about the lives of those who died and carry their passions with me for a time. I look for the stories of those who met their own terror with the strength to respond to the suffering of another.  I hold that in my heart as I strive to do the same in all of the places where terror lives.  I want the voices of those whose lives have been taken and the actions of those who used every ounce of the energy they have to save lives to permeate my body.

And then I remember.

I remember these souls every time I help create a safe place for people to be together, a community that does not judge people based on particular expressions of gender, sexual orientation, or familial bond.  

I remember those souls when I speak to those who condone violence, who place their own right to bear arms above another’s right to exist.  

I remember those souls when I work to shape community responses to people in crisis, in order to craft different ways of supporting the possibility of health and wholeness.

I remember those souls when I advocate for sensible gun reform and speak to those in power to make changes in policy and law, about the rights of those who are no longer here to defend the life that was taken from them. 

There are a thousand ways to remember, reflect and respond.  All of them are important.  Find the ones most meaningful to you and do what you are called to do.  Serve life.  Act with love.  Remember.