by Bishop Laura J. Ahrens of Connecticut
So, I’ll begin with a confession. I was feeling excited about the fact that the staff the Episcopal Church in Connecticut all had matching orange t-shirts with our ECCT logo and the important words “ECCT against gun violence” emblazoned across the front. We were a unified team speaking out against something that we were passionate about and that we wanted to make a visible statement about to those who would see us that day either in person or via social media.
However, as the day wore on, the shirt took on a different meaning to me. As I encountered colleagues and community members and followed social media, seeing friends, acquaintances, strangers, politicians, and one older woman walking slowly, but importantly, wearing orange and attaching a sign to her walker #wearorange, the feeling of the day took a different shape.
I remembered. I remembered Sandy Hook. I remembered the tears, my own and those of people I love dearly, lost in the confusion of the day. I remembered feeling sick to my stomach as I heard the news and drove to Newtown, not knowing what to think or feel, but knowing there was nowhere else God was calling me to be -to be in the sadness of the day and to let that sadness break my heart. Knowing there were no words to speak but that the God I prayed wordless prayers to so fiercely that day was the Word and while I didn’t know what that meant exactly in that moment, I put my faith and my broken heart and offered the broken heart of others in that Word.
I remembered our Holy Week Walk in Washington D C in 2013, Challenging a Culture of Violence, The Way of the Cross and the way that the rain and the chill of the day felt right because that mirrored my tears and my desire to look the cold in the face and say “Enough.” Enough to this violence. Enough to the laws and the actions which make guns accessible in unsafe ways. Enough to shootings, random or not, that take away life, scar hearts and wound communities. Enough.
I remembered the walk at General Convention in Salt Lake City in 2015. The prayers, witness and song leading up to the march were powerful and inspirational, but then we began to walk. The same sick to my stomach feeling came upon me as my foot turned to make the first step. When would this be the last march because our work was done? How many walks, how many steps, would me and countless others, take, offering our witness to Enough. I marched, I sang and I will march and sing again. Enough.
I will march. I will sing. I will pray. I will wear orange. I will give word and action to Enough. I am a bishop against gun violence. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. I will give voice to that Word of love and hope. I will offer my word and my actions to this journey. I will remember. And I will work for change.
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens was elected and consecrated in 2007 and serves as the Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Church in CT. Laura enjoys working with parishes and communities as they seek to enhance their life of discipleship, nurturing their spiritual lives and engagement with scripture. Linking this discipleship with ministries of being sent out into the world as apostles to share the good news is the primary focus of her ministry.