I think of my Dad when I hear the news about Ottawa. I call him almost instantly. They could be his friends. In days past it could have been him.
Tucked away in the corner of my bedroom it seems surreal. How could this be happening when life is so peaceful? Soft breath rises and falls from the tiny one as he sleeps in his corner of the room. Giggles work their way through cracks in the house as my eldest works away at his task. This is ordinary life.
News breaks through the peace. There is violence and fear, terror and dismay. Articles are shared, news spreads and people comment on what’s happening instantly. Theories and ideas, suspicions and details move quickly. Some true, some not so true. Everyone wants answers. Everyone wants to know the ‘why’?
I think back to my morning reading. I think of the mystics and their belief that if we dig deep, if we push past our sin we will find God. I wonder how deep we have to push to find God in this mess. I do not understand it. I do not understand this intentional wounding of others.
I turn to my prayer book. I open to the chapter on peace and find myself looking for words, looking for help on what to say, what to pray to God. I find a piece of a psalm. I read an intercessory prayer. I read it again.
O Christ of the poor and the yearning
Kindle in my heart within
A flame of love for my neighbour,
For my foe, for my friend, for my kindred all.
From the humblest thing that lives
To the Name that is highest of all
Kindle in my heart within
A flame of love.
J. Phillip Newell, Celtic Prayers from Iona
I think of this love.
I think of the love that is required of us.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
I am reminded of the need to pray.
Not just for our country and the safety of it’s citizens.
Not just for peace and resolution to the crisis.
Not just for justice that satisfaction be known to those who seek it.
Not just for families of those who have lost and for the protectors which face danger to keep us safe.
We must also pray for those who would wound and destroy.
I pray for them that they might know a new way, a better way.
I pray that God would open their hearts to peace and understanding.
I pray that they would stop, they would think, they would see the people whom they are wounding.
It’s not fun to pray for one’s enemies.
It’s really hard to think about loving them but love is a choice and Jesus tells us to make that choice.
Sometimes I wonder about Jesus. Does he know how hard this is?
Then I remember that tree. I remember those moments where he hung dying, stripped bare and exposed to the world.
He knows hard.
Photograph by Royalguard11 (Taken by me in Ottawa) [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons