Like most Americans, I was sent reeling into a place of sadness and despair and anxiety as a result of the news coming out of Arizona over the weekend. So there I was this past Tuesday, carrying my grief around, trying to rush through an exam review with my theology students because it seemed pretty certain based on the weather forecast that here in the Northeastern U.S. we would not be coming to school on Wednesday. (Remind me sometime to talk about my struggles in handing things over to God go when it comes to snowstorms).
That’s when the miserable feeling crystallized – another senseless slaughter had occurred, and what was the best response I could muster in my own ministry? Orchestrating a pretty crappy exam review. (Of course, we prayed, but I can’t see how the “Our Father” is enhanced in any particular way by my leading it.)
Do you see where I am going with this? The devil was dancing in Arizona, and I felt like I couldn’t even pull off the minimal requirements of my tiny share in the Spirit’s call to light a candle in the darkness.
How can the work that I do in the classroom and in my writing do anything at all to make a dent in the monstrous evil in the world so horrifically illustrated by the attempted assasination and mass killing in Tuscon? The devil must dance with glee as he watches the blood of dedicated public servants, decent people and an innocent child intermingle on the ground.
What I would say, of course, to someone who approached me with such a feeling of despair is something like this: The mystery of evil is so big – but not bigger than God. It is only by the light of Faith that we are able to lay down this burden of feeling impotent and simply trust that our best efforts motivated by Love really do matter. All the rest is left to prayer – which remains our constant and always available companion.
And so this is what I am saying to myself right now. And I am taking that feeling of sadness and despair right into prayer, asking God to transform it into something else – a renewed determination to look the devil in the eye as I dance to a different tune – one emanating from the heart of creation.
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)
For whom/what shall we pray today?