We weren’t even done mourning last month’s tragedies when this latest unspeakable atrocity intruded upon us. As I write this, they’re still counting the casualties in Las Vegas, but more than 50 are known dead, hundreds more injured.
At times like this, words simply fail us. Our hearts are broken for the families who will never be made whole again, for the lives shattered, for the pain that now engulfs that community, indeed the whole nation.
Our emotions are raw, as they need to be for a little while. We need to sit with this grief in order to process it. We need to recognize that this fresh wound to our psyche isn’t just about Las Vegas. It will also peel back the scars of earlier traumas: Orlando; Sandy Hook; Virginia Tech; San Bernadino; and, especially painful for Coloradans, the Aurora and Columbine shootings. And maybe some of you have experienced gun violence in even more personal ways. If so, expect those old memories to start bubbling up this week too.
The temptation is to move on too quickly, not to stay in this dark place one second longer than necessary. That’s especially tempting now, when each new day seems to bring us some new catastrophe. We cannot carry them all. But tempting as it is to simply change the channel, to set aside the profoundly troubling in favor of the mindless and soothing, let’s not leave behind our sorrow before we have tasted it fully. If we don’t deal with this now, we will most surely have to deal with it later.
So give yourself permission to mourn this week. Mourn Las Vegas, and all the other losses that need mourning in your life. Speak to God of your grief. Cry if you feel like it. Wail, even. Don’t bottle it up. Instead, give it to our Lord in all its rawness and ugliness. Fortunately, we have a Savior who understands the depths of human misery. He’s been there.
On Wednesday, in place of our usual Noon Eucharist and Healing Service, we will have a Service of Lamentation. That’s just one more way of getting in touch with those deep, deep sorrows. And if you need to talk to someone this week, don’t hesitate to call. Together, we’ll get through this.