Numb. Numb is quite a word. And it’s quite a feeling, well, really, it’s not a feeling. It’s more a lack of feeling, it’s frozen, it’s dead.
Before medical and dental procedures, we may get a shot near the offending area to “numb” the pain. If you’ve ever experienced this, you may remember, and not fondly, that once the sweet numbness wears off, oh wow, now that hurts! Numb is a temporary holding pattern.
Many years ago, a friend suddenly lost her son. She lived alone and when the police called they asked if she was alone and learning that she was, instructed her to go to the emergency room of a nearby hospital where she was given the news of her son’s death. I always remember her telling me that the doctor tried to give her tranquilizers and she refused, stating “If you think I want to wake up in two years and feel this pain…” Yes, numb is a temporary thing.
People in the United States have been bombarded by news and experiences of mass shootings for many years, too many. Just recently, after the horrific shooting in a Buffalo supermarket, we then learned of a deadly shooting in our subway. And on Tuesday, the ultimate horror at the Robb Elementary School in Texas, where innocent little children and wonderful teachers were slain.
And what about the 18-year old who did this? We will no doubt hear details of his life which may or may not explain what circumstances led him to this, what possible horrors in his own life could only be alleviated by this bloody slaughter. Perhaps his numbness wore off and all that was left was pain.
We’ve all had our own personal reactions to these events. If you felt numb, as I did, almost disconnected from it, that’s okay. We’ve had just too much of this kind of news. You’re still a compassionate human being but your body, your mind, your psyche, is protecting you.
A few years ago, orange emerged as the “anti-gun violence” color and that color was worn to demonstrations, churches, and other events. At that time, I acquired an orange deacon’s stole. Then, I barely got to wear it (happily) as mass shootings were suddenly way down. But, of course, that was Coved related as no one was inside schools and other public venues for quite some time.
Today, I’ll be wearing my orange stole, in prayer for an end to the carnage, and as a sign of empathy for all affected by gun violence. So, what does this mean? Is such a gesture going to make a difference? No, it’s not that simple nor am I that naïve. It’s simply a sign, like our sacraments, an outward sign of an inward grace. In this case, the grace I pray for us all, as the numbness wears off.
The worst thing we can do in moments like this is to isolate. The words “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20), have an agenda behind them. They’re a clarion call beckoning us to be in community. That’s where we find our strength, our comfort, our mighty prayer power.
Please be with us this Sunday, and during the week, in person and via our many on-line offerings. Reach out to Adrian, Nate, and me. Don’t be alone in this, let’s pray together.