Thursday, July 7, 2016


With the number of mass killings reported in the media in just the last few months alone I am staying vigilant to my relationship with these statistical barrages. Forty-nine massacred. Twenty three killed. One hundred twenty lost. “The most deadly attack since…” There is often only a slightly more earnest inflection between these devastating numbers and the next day’s weather forecast.

We have become a culture that has forgotten how to grieve.

With the sheer number and rapidity of killings it is almost impossible to let land the enormity of our collective unconsciousness. We walk around in psychological denial and emotional pullback just as a way to survive our times. We lump the lives lost in these occurrences into a single re-portable number, a package we rarely ever choose to open. And yet it was not forty nine people gunned down. It was one person gunned down forty nine times. Each of these people were individuals with lives and loves and fears and aspirations. They had families and histories and accomplishments and failures. They were composed of darkness and light, soul and body, spirit and shadow. They were precious simply because they were.

How can we possibly grieve all these who have departed, and how can we possibly not? We become less human when we hear the statistics and surf onto happier media posts. We become less human when we see the images and simply order another latte. We become less human when we lose the capacity to stop and to feel, to honor and to pray.

I am sure at a certain level it is because we fear we may be next.

If it were soon to be my turn I do not want to leave this lifetime with a callous heart and a disengaged humanity. I have done numb. I have lived a life of gray. It is scarcely a life at all. It has taken me a long, long, time to re-access this heart. To relax the habitual recoil and to move toward what I for so long ran away from.

It hurts. God knows it hurts. I will take that. I will let that hurt in. I do so in solidarity to those who have left, and with those they have left. I did not know them. I will never know the details of their incarnations. But we are one by virtue of the fact of our shared humanity. This pain I feel for the one person who has died forty-nine, twenty-three, one hundred-twenty times is the evidence I am real, awake, alive. I do not want a spirituality that deadens me. I do not want a spirituality that makes me less human. I do not want a spirituality that cuts me off from my ability to grieve.

I grieve those that have been lost. I grieve them not en mass but as individuals. I know there is something beyond this realm. Please don’t disparage me with platitudes. But they are gone from this experience. They are violently, tragically, suddenly, irreparably gone. And I am grateful to be able to stop and to grieve and to feel and to cry. I need to. I need that level of connection. I want that level of connection.

I grieve because I need to grieve. And it lets me know that I am still alive.