Last night, friends from around our neighborhood gathered to hold a vigil of lament for the Charleston tragedy.
We shared our confusion, our sadness, our anger and our pain.
We read a liturgy of solidarity and empathy seeking to simply sit in the pain alongside our black sisters and brothers impacted not only by this tragedy, but by the “spoiled meat of racism” that manifests itself everyday.
We then walked around the room looking into the eyes of each of the victims as their pictures and bio’s hauntingly and beautifully hung on the walls of the room.
What a remarkable collective of people giving themselves to God and neighbor. No doubt, a collective of people God was and is using to bring about the world he is making.
But the pain of this tragedy runs deep. We must lament. We must wail. We must sit in the disorienting pain of our sisters and brothers seeking to understand rather than to be understood.
It was the beautiful face and story of DePayne Middleton Doctor that broke me. A mother of four daughters who day in and day out lived a remarkable life of love and care. Four daughters who will never hear the soothing voice or experience the warm hug of their mother again.
As a father of four kids, this is an unfathomable reality that I can’t pretend to understanding…but I can weep.
Weep over the missed birthday parties, graduations, weddings and grandkids.
Weep over the deepened feelings of vulnerability and isolation.
Weep over the injustice of a death fueled by an ideology that was given birth by a busted history and system of inequality.
We trust that the stories of those killed did not end last week, but is just beginning as their witness is now amplified around the world to shed light on an infection debilitating our nation.
We closed by reading the wise words of Martin Luther King Jr. spoken after four girls were killed in a Birmingham church in an act of terror similar to last weeks.
“They did not die in vain. God still has a way of wringing good out of evil. History has proven over and over again that unmerited suffering is redemptive. The innocent blood of these little girls may well serve as the redemptive force that will bring new light to this dark city.”
While we pray this to be true, for now, we must weep.