(On the occasion of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016)
We overslept and missed our plane to North Carolina where I was performing a wedding the next day. In our rush to the airport we didn’t check the kids’ backpacks and at security the TSA agent confiscated our 7-year-old’s super soaker water gun. We were mortified. The agent apologized. Our son wept. That trip more than twelve years ago and I remembered it this morning, thinking, “We are a very, very confused country.”
Vigils are happening everywhere, but for the life of me I can find no more useful words to write or sing or pray. None which give proper due to the sacrifices made on this altar of national disgrace. National, not human, for every nation does not suffer these same tragedies. Different tribes with different values have made different choices. They do not bury first graders en masse. And if funerals for first graders do not finally break us, I fear we are too far gone. I fear we have left the moral atmosphere where human decency may yet be recovered. Our best last hope may only be repentance. And if we must have words, I suggest the first chapter of Isaiah, verses 15-20:
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your doings
from before my eyes;
cease to do evil, learn to do good;
seek justice, rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be devoured by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.