Monday, June 22, 2015

Reaching for grace

I'm having trouble writing here because I don't want to write about the boy with hair in his eyes, welcomed into the prayer meeting at a historic Black church in Charleston, guided by an arm around his shoulders to a seat next to the pastor, who sat there for an hour listening to a minister and a librarian and a coach and a teacher and a grandmother, the faithful, as they searched out the good, who then rose to his feet and pumped bullets into nine of them, telling a tenth that he was leaving her alive so that she could tell what happened there.

I don't want to write about the fact that the families of the dead got up in court a day later and told that hate-filled boy that they forgave him. I have not forgiven him, and I don't believe the families truly can forgive him so soon after he murdered their loved ones. I think they are just saying the words, reaching for grace, but it made it all the worse for me that the shooter just stood there with dead eyes as these people spilled their sorrow at his feet. My cousin thought it was God in action. I couldn't feel it if it was. I hated it. I thought it was the devil himself standing there with those empty eyes, with no shadow of remorse for the atrocity he had committed.

He was obsessed with the Trayvon Martin and Freddie Gray cases. He had become radicalized by the Trayvon Martin case, which brought him to the conclusion that Black people were taking over his country. This, according to some rambling manifesto he wrote on some White supremacist website. I laughed bitterly when I heard that. I couldn't help wondering how this taking over the country business was working for Travyon.

In Charleston, all the flags flew at half mast in honor of the dead, except for the Confederate flag, which continued to fly high, insult to injury, insult to murder.

Fathers day was lovely for us, all of us together for the day, my daughter making her dad's favorite creme brûlée, my son being a big goofy boy, everything easy and good. I felt so lucky and blessed to call this man the father of my children, and for us to be there together enjoying the two we have raised, who have grown into such good human beings. But every time I tried to write about it, I just felt as if the world was in flames, and how could I not acknowledge that, even from my sweet corner, where my mercies seem almost extravagant. Don't get me wrong, I'm so grateful for these mercies, this family of mine, this life. God in action, my cousin says. Yes. That.





19 comments:

  1. I will be honest with you- I do not get the concept of forgiveness. Just don't get it. I don't care what people say about how it's not about the person you're forgiving. It's about you.
    NO. No it's not. That man was so evil that no one's words can reach his heart. Does he have a heart? I don't think so. Just a bloody muscle.
    I don't understand the God in Action, either. Why wasn't God in action to stay the hand with the gun?
    Too many questions and to me they all point to the same things- racism, lack of gun laws, insanity, evil. And I'm tired of all of this "was he a terrorist"? Who cares what his sick motivation was? He did it. Why do labels make it any different? He chose his targets for his own horrendous intents.
    Damn.
    I'm sorry.
    I'm glad you got to have your family all together for Father's Day. We are blessed in that- these good men in our lives who are all about love. Blessed. And we don't forget.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary, I remember when 9/11 happened my daughter was 7. She curled up under my arm that night and asked if the terrorists were coming to get us, too. I could see she was frightened and I was eager to calm her fears. I told her God would protect us. She said, Why didn't God protect the people on the planes? I had no words, but of course, I've pondered her question endlessly. I have come to the view that God is not just in us, but God IS us, and it is up to us to choose the loving way. But we don't always do that. And we aren't always protected. But for the good in our lives, we are mindful, and grateful, and maybe just damned lucky. And you're right, we don't forget.

      Delete
    2. Angella, no one has ever put that sentiment as well as you just did. God is not 'other.' We've been taught that he's away -- that he even sent a son down who left us again. In many Indigenous cultures' traditional religions it's known that the divine is in everything, swirling within and is everything outside. That mountain is God. The sky is God. We are God.
      I didn't know he sat down in the church, I haven't read that many stories about the shooting because I want to throw up. I had a false vision that he stormed into the church vigilante style, much like the shooter who wanted to "kill Liberals" who came to my former church and killed 2 and wounded 7 back in 2008. I think any divine being(s) there is(are) shake their heads at us.

      Delete
  2. Yes. You are right. God IS us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ms. Moon, and who am I to say that in uttering those words of forgiveness those people weren't trying to express a higher consciousness. Heck, I don't know. I just probably couldn't have done it, not right then, that is all.

      Delete
  3. Such major questions and things that just cannot be answered. My mother and I lamented it via text earlier and I said I just feel so horrible and guilty and I don't know why - but I feel like I'm watching a community suffer and I am in wet concrete. She agreed. I hate that we even have to have that conversation. I think God is us too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SJ, I think we are all in wet concrete. But at least it is still wet, and maybe we can climb out and wash it away with some industrial strength hoses. I think the only way we can do that is to just live with as much love and tolerance as we can, right where we are. I think the more people do that, the more powerful the effect. I wish I had a more concrete strategy (like making guns magically disappear from the planet, which would make hate a lot less lethal!) but that's all I've got right now. Thanks for being here.

      Delete
  4. When I read that he had been arrested I said that I couldn't be a police officer because if I had been the one to find him, I would have wanted to kill him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steph(anie), I can't quite believe his father put a gun in his hands. Not when he had been spewing about wanting to shoot up a campus for months.

      Delete
  5. I don't forgive the boy either. He has added to my belief that humanity is doomed. He has added to my belief that there is no hope for any of us. He doesn't deserve forgiveness because I have no doubt that he doesn't think he did anything wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't feel any forgiveness either and I hope God isn't us, although either way is or isn't, we don't seem to stand a chance.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's a very sad situation when there is so much hatred in somone, that he executed his evil thoughts and took so many innocent lives, in suvch a holy place.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I haven't addressed it either. I just can't. No words. Just sorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I left a long comment. I don't know what happened to it. It doesn't matter. This is beyond sad, this situation we find ourselves in, this humanity situation. Good people try to continue to be kind while living with their rage over the horrific and senseless things bad and misled and stupid people do. It feels so ancient and hopeless. Only the weapons have changed over time. At least that goddamned flag is starting to come down. At least there's that.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I could not have forgiven so quickly, either. But I think forgiveness has almost nothing to do with the one who has committed evil, and everything to do with the hurting, the mourning. Forgiveness is saying, the evil you have done stops here. It will not nurse further torment in my own heart. That's how I see it anyway. The wound of racism is so deep in our country. I believe it must be acknowledged before it can be healed. But you are angry and you have every right to be. It seems obvious that if it was harder for evil people to get guns, we would all be better off. It's a tragedy and it breaks my heart. Forgive these rambling thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Forgiveness is for the living. There is no way, no how I could have been ready to utter words of forgiveness to the killer. He is sick on so many levels as his father for giving him a gun on his 21st birthday. This was a travesty. Babies are not brought up to see and hate color, it HAS to stop somewhere. I am glad that you and your family were warmly together. That's important to me. I could just break down.

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's shocked everyone the world over and people are talking. I can't even believe it would change anything. I want to, but people are so hateful sometimes. I also don't understand the forgiveness. Maybe it's about taking power away from the perpetrator. Taking away his power to hurt, even if only in words.

    I thought the creme brulee looks perfect, with the fruit on top, and on the table cloth. Somehow all these details scream love to me.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think perhaps forgiveness is a way of taking a stand, a way of saying "I will not allow your actions to change me, your sins must stay with you."

    ReplyDelete
  14. I've heard several of my friends say similar things -- that they can't forgive, they're too angry. I suspect you're right about the families. True forgiveness is not such an immediate thing. But I feel a bit sorry for the shooter too, for being so misguided and, as you said, wronged by the world. I think, frankly, he's not too bright and he's filled with bad, evil information. I don't see how ANYONE could listen to that Trayvon Martin case and come away with the impression that white people are being victimized. The seeds of racism must already have been within him, growing, for him to have interpreted the case THAT way.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...