I am drained.
I have exhausted my thoughts and stretched my prayers.
I am sapped of strength to do either in a meaningful way.
Yet, I pray.
Yet, I think.
And in my thinking and praying, I seek wisdom to act, to do, to behave, to exercise influence, to know and share wisdom.
I have big feet and my elder and Sunday School, Mrs. Emily Daniels, told me I should attach them to my prayers because the most vital intervention in prayer is not outside of ourselves. It is inside of us. It motivates, activates, and empowers us.
Yes. I am thinking about Uvalde and Buffalo and all the hundreds of places and incidents where violence has erupted because of someone with guns. Yes. I am praying.
But fully engaged prayer involves our total being, our bodies, our feet, our voices, our influence, our courage, our problem-solving capacity, our willingness to make sacrifices and work with our adversaries to make changes.
But I am exhausted and numb.
Yesterday peeled another layer off of my neuropathic skin and exposed more rawness. I looked at every picture I could find online of the children, precious, sweet children and of the parents, devastated and grieving and found one bit of good news:
I can still feel.
I can still be shocked.
I can still be devastated.
I am not numb to this.
I am sad and I am angry.
I am sad for them and I am sad for any eighteen year old kids who can be so angry, twisted, self-absorbed, fixated on weapons, unperturbed by death, and mean as to throw away the lives of others and not care about their own.
I am angry that their followers copy them and cheer them.
I am angry that someone buys them guns or sells them guns.
I am angry that the first words out of some peoples' mouths is about our rights to have guns. I have never owned a gun and never will. I actually believe you have the right to have one if you are stable and law abiding and pass at least the same background checks and proportional training comparable to others who hold the power of life an death in their hands:
- Food handlers
Personally, I do not need them, want them, or allow them in my home. And that is a mutual decision between myself and my wife. We will find other ways to protect ourselves or will die. That is our choice.
And I see no need to participate in an armed uprising against the government. We will fight for our rights in peaceful ways or we will suffer persecution.
That is where my thoughts and prayers take me. They move me to use my vote, my words, and my actions to influence reasonable policies that protect everyone's rights, even rights I do not choose to exercise, but with logical limits.
My thoughts and prayers also lead me to be pastoral toward those who are in pain. As I have opportunity to minister, I will take it. That includes my readers and listeners.
My thoughts and prayers further lead me to be respectful, cordial, civil, and gracious toward others. May they also empower me to do so and to put my anger in it place.
What about mental illness?
Some of the kindest, gentlest, and most spiritually healthy people I know deal with mental illness. I support their right not to be lumped together with demented killers. I will certainly not do that to all gun owners and hunters.
However, when distorted thinking comes under the strong influence of evil thinking, there is cause for concern. There is greater concern when that happens to impressionable adolescents at their stage of brain development.
So, how can we address that with our thoughts and prayers?
I am not being sarcastic. I am asking and not expecting a quick answer. If we combine thinking and praying, we may start with more questions than answers. Arrogance does not appreciate that. Genuine spirituality does.
Well, I said I was exhausted and I am. I am done for now without a clever closing. Maybe that is the way it should be.
Put a comma there.