Moments of Silence
One of the most memorable vacations I ever took as a child was to a place famous for its lazy river. For those of you unacquainted with a lazy river, I feel for you. For those of you only acquainted with a lazy river constructed in a water park or hotel pool, I truly…truly…feel for you.
See, a real lazy river, like the one in my childhood memory, actually meanders through a town so that folks can ride an inner tube or other river-worthy vessel through most of town, stopping at inlets and coves where you can scramble up the banks to find ice cream or some of the town’s amusements, and then get back on the river to continue your voyage. Or, if you need some time to think in the peace of like-minded frolicking folks, you can just go around and around and around the river all day long.
The lazy river of my youth was the lazy river in New Braunfels, Texas, the hometown of the attacker in the most recent deadly attack in a house of worship. I spent a week with my family in New Braunfels, navigating the river, driving go-carts, seeing all that the San Antonio area had to offer. I remember it so fondly that now to hold the images from this past week alongside my cherished family memories is causing me spiritual pain. And I am not alone. As these deadly attacks occur with more and more frequency, more and more people are being personally affected, even if only as remotely as this attack impacts my own life and memory.
There will undoubtedly be moments of silence throughout the nation in the coming week, not unlike the one held on the floor of the House of Representatives where a lawmaker walked out of the chamber in protest of that body’s inaction on gun control. But no amount of prayer, no amount of honoring, no amount of holy silence will ever heal the absence, the vacancy, the moment after moment after moment of silence left by those lives taken so quickly, so violently, and so easily. The inherent worth and dignity of every person calls us to break free from the lazy cycle of tragedy, prayer, waiting, and inaction. More and more of each one of our lives will be gravely and permanently changed forever by this epidemic if this nation fails to take action to stem this tide.
Not all moments of silence are holy. Not all moments of silence are honorable. Ask anyone waking up to the deafening silence of a loved one taken so senselessly by this tragedy. May we each take time in our lives to reflect on ways that we might take part in this work, how we might lend voice to those now silent in the coming weeks. And may we continue this conversation and take these actions together, loudly, and for as long as it takes to see the dawn of a more peaceful, more just world.
There’s a river flowing in our soul. May its banks overrun with justice, and soon. And may it ever be so.