I felt a devastating familiarity, hearing about the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida yesterday.
These tragedies have become all too common in our current world. Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, San Bernadino, Manchester. It seems like every couple months, the list keeps getting longer and longer.
The prayers we plead for the victims and their families seem like they’re falling on deaf Ears. OK God, Where are You? Why do You keep letting these calamities happen?
And, honestly, it can shake a lot of people’s faith.
How could a good God allow such bad things to happen?
And the only explanation that I’ve been able to find, is that we live in a fallen world. This life is not Heaven. And frankly, we were not made for this world, or to feel at home in it. We’re just passing through. And whether we like to admit it, or believe it, or even entertain the idea, the fact is: there is evil in this world. On the prowl. And we, a fallen people, can fall prey to such darkness.
I know that from personal experience. I did. During my anorexia, I was living captive. I won’t go into detail here, and if you want to read about it, you can do so in this post, but I had an out-of-body experience when the demon – or whatever evil was occupying my spirit – was expelled from my body. But that’s for another time.
There is evil in the world. And we must be diligent to keep the faith, steady our eyes on Jesus, and guard our hearts and minds to the trappings of the evil one.
And all day yesterday, I did not see a single other ash cross on the streets of NYC. None.
I thought, did I have the wrong day? Where are all the other believers? And granted, I know that not every branch of the faith “does” the ashes, and also – you can be a believer and not go to church – I get that. But where were they?
Here we were, Ash Wednesday – on a day where the nation is in mourning over a horrific tragedy where children were mercilessly shot and killed, you would think that people would flock to church, and that the streets of NYC would be flooded with people proudly wearing their ashes as a sign of support to those who are hurting.
I have lived in NYC for over seven years. And every year that I have lived and worked in this concrete jungle, I have gone to Mass on Ash Wednesday. And every year, the turnout has dwindled and dwindled. The first year I moved to the city, I went with my friend, and we literally had to stand in the back of the packed-to-the-gills church. It was crazy how many people turned out. But since then, every year, the crowd at mass thinned, until this year, when the church was barely even 1/3 full. Same church. Same time. Same Ash Wednesday service. Where were the people?
I didn’t just go to Mass yesterday. But also, to yoga. My best friend has been studying to get her yoga teacher certification, and yesterday, she taught her first class. And so, being her ride-or-die, I was there, front row, with my camera, cheering her on and contorting my body into unGodly positions.
But she ended her class with a quote, that honestly, made me tear up just a little.
It read: “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
There are a lot of hurting people walking around today. Yes, many because of the heaviness in their hearts from the Florida tragedy. But many for other reasons. Hidden struggles that they carry silently, each and every day.
And every one of us has the ability to be a light to those around us. And we don’t have to wear an ash cross on our foreheads to do so. Sure, that’s one way, but there are so many others.
And frankly, it is our duty. No, God didn’t make these tragedies happen — just like He doesn’t make you or I go out and serve the poor or volunteer our time. We have free will. We have been given the time we have on this earth. And how we choose to spend it is up to us.
And if we really want to live our lives in glory to the Father, other people should be able to witness that by how we live our lives. By the light we cast. By the lives we touch.
What better time than now to start living that way?
So many people, during tragedies, toss around Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Which is wonderful and good and comforting, yes.
But what if one way He is close to those brokenhearted people, is by using you and me to love them? What if we are supposed to be the “go-between’ers?”
Yes, my heart and prayers go out to the victims and families and those hurting after this most recent tragedy. But more than that, I want my actions to go our to them too. I want to bring light to those whose worlds are darkened today.
Who’s with me?
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