ON A DAY WHEN WE NEED REASSURANCE AND GRACE – WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 22, 2014
Today, a young man on ceremonial guard duty at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa, was shot down. The assailant then made his way to Parliament, entered the building and was himself killed by security forces. Others may have been physically wounded in the fray; certainly, all of us have sustained some sort of damage as a result of these events. There is grief, there is fear, there is uncertainty (can you be fearful without being uncertain?) and there is anger. There is anger with all its accompanying hurt – hurting ourselves, hurting others. When commentators were talking about the potential for ricochets of bulletins inside the stone buildings, I thought to myself, the ricochets that we most have to worry about will be those of hatred, anger and vitriol.
There isn’t a broadcast media site that doesn’t contain dozens of posted comments full of hate; and the targets of that hatred include not only the man who committed the murder of Corporal Nathan Cirillo this morning at the cenotaph. Typical of hatred, no one is left un-named or untouched…national leaders, politicians, spokespersons, political parties, commentators, other people posting their comments on-line…when hatred surfaces, we are all targets of opportunity.
I was left wondering what my own response to it should be? I am shocked but not surprised by the event itself. Violence of this sort is a bit like gambling. There is a mathematical certainty that sooner or later it will find us. But what should my response be? I was preparing some short announcements for the church worship bulletin this Sunday and I happened to look in a resource that I sometimes use for inspiration – it is the Divine Service Book for the Armed Forces. My hand writing on the inside cover tells me that I was service with 2 Airborne Commando in Petawawa when I obtained the book…that would have been the early 1980’s. I never opened that book until about a year ago.
I found a prayer for courage and it seemed to me that my first response to today’s events should be prayer. And so I offer that particular devotion in hope that by praying, I will be reassured of God’s grace, and be reminded that we are all beloved:
Teach us, Good Lord, to serve Thee as thou deservest; to give and not count the cost; to fight and not heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labour and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do Thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
That is a hard prayer to offer when my heart is heavy and I feel sorrow for those who died, others who are damaged by today’s events. The only thing that makes it easier is when I can surrender my own fear and uncertainty, if only for a few fleeting seconds at a time. I know that fear is the mind-killer and that it will obliterate all that is good, if it is not confronted for what it is. To confront fear is to seek out what is fully human in all of us. To replace fear and anger with grace and love is my response. <><Pat