“There has been a shooting at an Aurora, Colorado theater, leaving several dead and dozens wounded.” The voice from NPR woke me as usual at 7:30 a.m. I rolled out of bed to listen to the voice, even though it parted me from deep sleep that became my companion just three hours earlier. Did I hear correctly? Again, a violent tragedy had hit my home state. Memories of the 1999 Columbine massacre surfaced, uninvited.
I stumbled to my kitchen, put on the kettle and the TV. No, I was not suffering auditory hallucinations in a sleep-deprived stupor. Local news anchors confirmed the report.
In the next two days, victims were named. Reported ages of those fatally shot ranged from 6-51. Many more remained in hospital. Heaviness of hearts grew and grief multiplied on individual, communal, national and global levels.
“How will we cope, Lord? What can we do?” I cried through my morning prayers. “God, is this the world we live in? Where is the rainbow, Lord? Where is the promise? How will we cope, Lord?”
In worship service the Sunday following the shootings, one of the pastors described a prayer vigil she attended for the victims. She had been part of a group gathered in shock and confusion, looking for answers, praying for hope. She said the vigil was held on a hill overlooking the theater, which was surrounded by yellow tape and emergency vehicles with flashing lights. She related praying the Lord’s Prayer en masse with a collection of strangers, brought together by tragedy, held together by faith. Pastor placed particular emphasis on the petition within the prayer, “Thy kingdom come.”
The rest of the day, I couldn’t shake that phrase, “Thy kingdom come. ” As a Christian, I repeat this prayer often but, admittedly, am not always mindful of the intentions within the petitions. Never before had I felt the impact of this phrase. I asked God to show me what His kingdom really might look like on earth. And as I did ask, so I did receive.
Thy kingdom come – with no human-mandated divisions by color, country, gender, money, doctrine, ability, or politics.
Thy kingdom come – with personal responsibility for co-creating a culture of love, respect, hope and care for all life forms – a culture that intentionally celebrates differences and embraces sameness.
Thy kingdom come – with ready smile for a stranger and outstretched hand for one who feels like an outsider.
Thy kingdom come – with acceptance that I may hurt because I love and I will love because that is all that matters. And in that love I will reach out to others without concern for my own discomfort, confusion and pain.
Thy kingdom come – with peace that renders questions irrelevant and passeth all understanding.
Thy kingdom come – in the pastor’s words, “Even outside a pretty liturgical space, and in this, yes in this – the middle of a crime scene.”
Through my tears and anguish I prayed, “Oh yes, Lord, please,Thy kingdom come – today, to me, to us, to all.” This, yes this is how we will cope.
Copyright August 2012
Lakewood, CO 80401
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“Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers. If you live in the U.S. and would like an autographed copy sent directly to you, click on the tab for buying books on my home page
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