Reflections on Orlando: An Open Prayer

Lord, we are afraid. We remember the shots heard round the night, fifty brothers and sisters cut down on a hot summer night; cut down in a time of joy and celebration, cut down in our sanctuary, cut down in the one place where they didn’t have to be afraid.

Lord, we are afraid. Our parties and bright glitter turned to weeping and funeral shawls as we are thrust into the stark reality that there are still those in this nation who would murder us for loving; those in this nation who would kill us out of spite, kill us out of politics, kill us out of holiness, kill us, kill us, kill us for loving.

Lord, we are afraid, we have lived our lives hearing it was holy to beat us, hearing it was holy to kick us, hearing it was holy to keep us locked in a cage, hearing it was holy to keep us from the table of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, hearing it was holy to drive us to an early grave, and hearing it was holy to do the deed themselves, we have lived our lives hearing that to hate us is holy, hearing that this hate was holy and out of love.

Lord, I have seen roses bloom out of this river of blood. I have seen brothers and sisters hug and embrace each other. I have seen them put aside the petty bullshit and rivalries that often mar our community and stand hand-in-hand. I have seen weeping eyes dried under the quiet flames of candles.

Lord, I have seen roses bloom out of this river of blood. I have seen brothers and sisters put their marching boots on and hoist the Colors high. I have heard the voices rumbling across the nation, the roars that say “THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN!” I have seen beautiful solidarity blooming out of this, Lord. Brothers and sisters who have grown tired and weary of living lives under the heel of society rise up and say “Enough!”. Brothers and sisters who swear they will lay down their lives to save another. Lord, I have seen beautiful solidarity.

Lord, I have seen roses bloom out of this river of blood, I have seen closet doors burned down in the flame of a warrior’s heart. I have seen courage, Lord; the courage to be ourselves even in the specter of gore. I have seen eyes glisten with tears reflecting on spirits that no bullet could ever stop. I have seen the truth that true love casts out all fear, Lord.

Lord, will things really change? We are already being forgotten and cast aside even in death. We are being pushed aside to put the spotlight on terrorists and AR-15s. We are forgotten even in death so that politicians can push their egos and soak up their spotlights. Will things really change, Lord? Will we be pushed aside again, cast aside again, forgotten again? Are we a side note to immigration policies and gun control? Are we a side note for poll numbers and legislation roll calls? Who are we in death, Lord?

Lord, will things really change? Will the preachers who offered us their thoughts and prayers go right back to calling us vile and evil come Sunday morning? Will the politicians who offered their thoughts and prayers go right back to voting to keep us second-class citizens and supporting planks that blame us for the destruction of the American family? Will this river of blood change one preacher’s heart or one politician’s vote?

Lord, will things really change? Will we quit being targets for bullets and ballots? Will we bury our long bloody past and be able to walk without fear? Will things really change, Lord? It has been a long bloody road and even though we walk freer than our forebearers did, it still seems like a long march ahead, and we cannot keep burying our dead, we cannot keep burying our fear, we cannot keep burying the hate in this world. Will things really change, Lord?

Lord, we have buried our dead, we have wiped our eyes, and whether or not things change today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or the next decade, we are willing to march. Our hearts are pure with the love of warriors. We lay it all with each other, in the spirit of each other, in the heart of each other.

Will the nation hear us, Lord?

 


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