Lament

NOTE: My message this morning reflects on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas and on how to live with and faithfully move through trauma.

“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Jeremiah 31:15

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest." Psalm 22:1&2

"And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?' (which means 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' )." Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34 


Dearly Beloved,

Our first response to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas must be lament -- weeping, mourning, rending our clothes and turning to scripture, music, poetry and artwork that begin to express the grief, the unbelief, the heartbreak, the numbness that we are feeling in this moment. 19 children murdered, not counting the teenager who committed this atrocity, and 2 teachers. Let us lament. After all, lament is how to pray when we are heartbroken, grief-stricken, angry, disbelieving, numb. Lament is how we talk to God when we cannot feel God's presence much less peace.

As we imagine the parents of the children who will never return home from school, whose laughter or squeals of delight will never again resound in their homes, who can never again be held close, whose kisses and curiosities will never again be shared, and whose potential will never be realized. Let us lament. 

As we imagine the kind of hurt, anger and hatred that could move a young man of 18, a high schooler himself, to murder 21 people most of them children. Let us lament.

As we look at the larger picture of our nation where this is the 27th school shooting and the  212th mass shooting this year. Let us lament. 

Lament is the very first step of faithfully living in the midst of trauma. To lament is to recognize the traumatic reality in which we live and to grieve what we have lost: Children. Teachers. The innocence of childhood. The knowledge that our children are safe at school. That we are safe at work. Or the movie theater. The grocery store. A concert. At church. We must acknowledge and grieve the fact that nowhere is safe from gun violence. 

As we move through lament, we can then ask "What is next?" Lament cannot be the end of our response, but it must be the beginning. So my invitation to you today and this week is to make space for lament. Take time to cry, to run/walk/exercise. Light a single candle or 21. Read scripture. Listen to music. Find a safe space to scream -- at God, the universe, at policies and politicians that allow such violence to happen again and again and again. Rend your clothing. Find a safe space and way to break something -- a mug or a plate. Lament. Weep. Mourn. Rage. This is a faithful response to trauma. To loss. To mindless, meaningless violence. To living in a nation where children are murdered in their classrooms. To living in a nation where a child turns weapons of mass murder on fellow children. To the fact that this has happened. Again. Lament.

And take care of yourself and your family -- drink lots of water. Take deep breaths. Go outside. For those with children, remember that you need to take care of yourself FIRST in order to be there for them. I am available for phone conversation and prayer today and all week if you need some additional support.

Here are some resources about how to have conversations with and offer support to children and youth:
15 Tips for Talking with Children about Violence 
Texas School Shooting: How to help kids get through unspeakable horror
Resources for Educators and Families to discuss school shootings
How to Talk to Kids about Gun Violence

I will be going on Facebook Live on our church's page at 11:00 for us to do some lamenting together. You are welcome to join me for that online. 

In grief, lament, and love,
Thandiwe