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Speaking to the Soul: From the Depths

Speaking to the Soul: From the Depths

Yesterday, October 1, we saw another mass shooting take place, this time at Umpqua Community College in Oregon

 

Just writing the words “another mass shooting” makes my hand shake. As I write this, ten victims are known to have died, and twenty victims are hospitalized.

 

On a day when our daily office gospel reading from Matthew 8 talks of three different healings, I wonder if we will ever take action to desire healing for ourselves of the sickness of a society that seems to lack the will to do anything more than shrug our shoulders at the repeated ability for violent and unstable individuals to get their hands on semi-automatic weapons and dozens of rounds of ammunition. Because it is obvious in so many of Jesus’s healings in the gospel that the initiative for healing begins with ourselves. The leper, desperate and outcast, kneels before Jesus, and is willing to act in faith that healing is possible. The centurion, also an outsider, has faith enough to believe that healing can come even with a word. Peter’s mother-in-law and dozens more are healed at Peter’s house. The multitudes come to Peter’s house, hoping for healing and willing to risk whatever it takes for that chance. Healing can only start with acknowledging that which ails us. It all starts with believing there IS the possibility of healing for what ails us, and in being willing to take the steps necessary to be healed.

 

Perhaps it can start with a prayer.

 

Come, Holy One, come.

Come to those who are weary, and need rest and relief.

Come to those who mourn.

 

O God, we turn our faces to you as we seek to become more faithful to your Word. We open ourselves to you, O Loving Friend, and seek to do your will. We ask you for guidance to those who do not know their way, for providing a light in the night for those who feel lost at sea.

 

But you, Loving One, suffer with us and know our pains, as we are your very own. We know you bend your heart to those who cry out to you. Send out your Spirit upon those who mourn a loss beyond comprehension, and give us guidance to do what we can to love them through these days and hours.

 

Help us to overcome the evil done to us, and help us turn away from any evil we have done. We ask for the courage to work to protect each other in love and hope. Help us to have courage to open our hearts in hope rather than close our fists in anger. We lift up those who have been the victims of crime. We lift up those who are sick in body, heart, or mind. Help us take the first steps on the road to peace and healing, guided by the light of your truth. Help us admit we need healing, and have the faith that healing is possible. Help us to believe, and to act. Amen.

 


 

Leslie Scoopmire is a retired teacher and postulant for the priesthood in the Diocese of Missouri. She attends Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, MO. She is a member of and musician at the Church of the Holy Communion in University City, Missouri, in the Diocese of Missouri, and tweets daily prayers and news of note @HolyCommUCity. Her blog is Abiding in Hope.

Image:  by Leslie Scoopmire

 

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Leslie Scoopmire

Philip, you ARE aware of how lawsuit-averse physicians are, yes? I say this only half-jokingly and from personal experience....

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Philip B. Spivey

I do know, but a just and compassionate society has a duty to protect the community AND those who report responsibly. I also know, we're not there yet. Gun control laws anyone?

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Leslie Scoopmire

Let me just put something out there that I have been thinking about: how has HIPAA, etc., made background checks and reporting of dangerous individuals beforehand nigh-to-impossible? Meanwhile, we've got no-fly lists that one can get on for having the wrong KIND of name.

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Philip B. Spivey

I was thinking the same thing, Leslie: We've gone way overboard with so-called precautions against "foreign" terrorists, but to my knowledge, there are no systematic precautions in place for "home-grown" terrorists.

Re: HIPPA laws, which protect a patient's rights to privacy--- I believe that a professional's duty-to-warn (of potential harm to self or harm to others) would take precedence over HIPPA in most places. Although the parameters of duty-to-warn are still being fought in some jurisdictions, I think any judge would find compelling reasons ---based on what we now know about the behavioral profiles of recent felons---to alert the community authorities.

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Stephen Mills

Thank you for this heartfelt and beautiful expression of grief at the tragedy of the loss of innocent life. I can't imagine anyone disagreeing with you that we need to keep guns out of the hands of violent and unstable individuals. The problem is identifying beforehand who is going to be violent and unstable. For example, Elliot Rodger had access to the finest psychologists and psychiatrists and even had a "personal life coach" who spent hours with him. Yet none of these professionals identified him as violent and unstable before he went on his killing spree. He also used a knife, a gun and a car so one wonders how many mass murderers would find alternative means if they had no access to guns.
Again, thank you.

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Philip B. Spivey

Thank you all for your compassionate observations, but Stephen, you raise an essential question for me: How is it that that these mass killers are not identified before they commit murder? Prayers for all concerned are appropriate AFTER the massacres, but awareness and action are required BEFORE the massacres.

The sins that are the greatest sins in my view are those that are preventable. We live an a world of earthquakes, tornadoes, drought and tsunamis; there's no way we could prevent these events. But, even with these extraordinary events--we have the power to limit the subsequent human suffering if we are prepared too. If there is any sin to be found in natural disasters, it will exist in our (municipal, state and federal government's) unwillingness to adequately prepare for an event, and/or care for its victims. Think, Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans: before, inadequate sea walls and afterwards, inadequate evacuation plans.

But personal weapons of death and the culture of guns is altogether different. These deaths are entirely preventable and that is what rips most at the heart. Gun laws aside, what amazes me is that most of the assassins made no secret of there obsession with guns; none of them hid their rage and violent fantasies; and, yet, none of these individuals were seen as serious threats.

We should know by now that persons who exhibit these behaviors are potentially DANGEROUS. We should know by now that these behaviors should not be tolerated in any community. We should know by now---especially professionals in the helping fields---that we must have greater vigilance and less denial about behaviors like these. Don't ask, don't tell is dangerous business.

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Leslie Scoopmire

Absolutely.

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Shirley O'Shea

By being present, I mean being available to listen to the needs expressed by the person suffering, and then to respond, whether it be through providing the things we all need to survive and eventually to flourish. Food, clothing, shelter, medical care, all of that, yes, but also friendship. That is what I meant by being present "in concrete ways." Being present is perhaps a somewhat non-Western concept. To me, it means fully accepting the other person's reality as it is for him or her. This in itself begins healing. And it means non-judgment of the person who is suffering.

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