In the midst of preparing to move into our new house and start our new life together something terrible happened in the world. Focused as we were on the task of cleaning out all the junk the previous owners left us to deal with so we could bring our own things into the house, this terrible thing barely registered with us. We heard the news. And we kept going. Our own world, our own troubles trumped the terrible thing that happened... Out there.
I finally had a moment to sit down and pay attention to the terrible thing that happened. Horrified, shocked and deeply saddened, I learned that a 29-year-old man took it upon himself to walk into a night club, slaughter 49 people, wound 53 more people and finally be shot to death himself by police.
Why? I asked myself. Why does this happen? How does someone get to the point where this is okay to do? How much hate does it take to put someone over the edge and choose to consciously kill and maim other people? Where does all this hate come from?
I felt the grip of fear begin to squeeze my heart. For a time I sat with this fear. I watched it grow. I watched it transform. Into hate; dark and ugly and consuming.
With some effort I backed away from the hate and from the fear. I refused to let it consume me.
I don't know any of the people that were killed or wounded. I don't know the man that killed and wounded them. But their loss... I felt it. I still feel it. I will feel it for a long time, I think.
This kind of thing seems to be happening with frightening regularity in the world. It's getting harder and harder to hold on to the beauty and wonder and goodness. I shall not give up.
I know someone that this same sort of hate is consuming. Beneath that hate is a wonderful, creative and amazing man. He's an artist of extraordinary talent. He's a skilled handyman. He's an accomplished musician. He has so much incredibly beautiful stuff to give to the world. And it's all buried somewhere under a thick and putrid layer of hate and loathing and fear. Now I fear for him.
I fear what all this hatred will do to him. Will he end up like this 29-year-old? I don't think he would pull the trigger. I honestly can't see him doing that. There is a tender place still in him that repels killing. I just hope it is tender enough, strong enough to outlast the hate.
I have seen his goodness. I have seen the love that he has. I can only pray that it somehow finds its way back to the surface and shines once again. I can only pray that he finds his art, his love, his grace. My fondest wish is for him to find peace and for him to know the great joy that truly risking his heart can bring.
My own little thought experiment reminded me of the amazing power of gratitude. I have so much to be thankful for and as I ticked off all the many, many things that give me joy, the hate and the fear shrunk back into the recesses of my soul.
We all have a dark side. We all must at some time face the darkness. We cannot know joy or love without also knowing fear and hate. Fifty people lost their lives to hate on June 12th. While I mourn this tragic loss, I also feel compelled to carry on; to be the best person I can be, to continue to go forward with love in my heart. Perhaps not just specifically for them, but for all of us- including my beloved friend so lost in his own darkness.
When we get settled, I will light a candle for these lost souls. I will honour each of them and the sacrifice they made. May it not be in vain. May something good come of this terrible thing that happened.