Monday, November 30, 2015

The Spiritual and the Political: A Reflection on the Colorado Springs Vigil

After Friday’s horrible shooting in the vicinity of a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs, a vigil was held at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church to remember the victims and to stand in solidarity with Planned Parenthood.  The senior pastor of the church, Rev. Nori Rost opened the vigil with these words: "We're here to honor the lives of those who were killed yesterday in domestic terrorism. We're here to honor thework of Planned Parenthood and stand with them in solidarity. We're here tohonor the amazing response of the Colorado Springs police and other responders.But we're mainly here to find comfort in each other's company. Together, we canchange the world."

Other speakers shared in their remarks about the need for stricter gun control laws and to protect the reproductive rights of women. One person in attendance got up from her pew and said to those in the church, “I thought we were here to grieve and mourn and not makepolitical statements." With that, she walked out of the church.

As a pastor, I have been thinking of the woman’s statement: was it appropriate to look to solutions in the midst of grief? Was the vigil the right time and place to talk about gun control and women’s reproductive rights?

When a loved one has died due to illness, accident, or old age, it seldom requires political and/or moral reflection—part of the cycle of life is birth and death. It is expected that we will eventually lose those we love—even our own life—through the passage of time. However, a death caused by willful intent is another story. Domestic violence—where one is no longer safe in the sanctuary of one’s home—or domestic terrorism—where someone seeks to inflict the most amount of harm to the greatest number of people, whether they are attending a church or seeking a medical procedure that is protected by law—has political and moral implications.

It is natural, even necessary, at times like these to seek, in the midst of our communal grief, communal answers to preventing future acts of violence. These moments, when we feel deeply the loss and see clearly that such loss could have been prevented, place us on  the sacred ground upon which our commitment to heal the brokenness within our community rests. It is imperative that as we grieve we find ways to move through it in ways that empower us. We need not be held hostage to evil that seeks to harm but instead we can live into our own power to join with others and find pathways to further peace, wholeness, and right relationships.

Make no mistake—all this has political ramifications. And perhaps it can be the most constructive thing we can do with our grief and the most loving act we can do to honor the legacy of those whose lives have been cut short to violence, especially at a vigil.

Liturgy, the ritual of worship, has as its origin:


"The Public work of the people done on behalf of the people." If our vigils are to have any true honoring of those who were massacred, it is that we join in the work that makes for peace in our communities so no other city will have to come together to mourn the loss of  so many. Let us end the unholy litany that continues to grow:
Newtown, CT
Aurora, CO
Colorado Springs, CO
May our vigils inspire us to honor the dead by seeking safe communities for the living.


No comments:

Post a Comment