Sheer silence


I am a priest and a blogger. I know I should be saying something about the horrific shooting that took place in Orlando this weekend. And yet, I am somehow unable to find the words. There are the words that describe what has already been said, many times over: shock, disbelief, anguish, fear, sorrow. Anger, despondency, helplessness. Tears, prayers, solidarity, support.

And there are the words that I don't want to have to say anymore: hatred, bigotry, division, suspicion. Politics, extremism, isolationism, threats. Violence. Automatic weapons. The number of dead.

There are the words that generally help me get through times like these, but are not having the same effect this time: love, forgiveness, peace. Faith. Gentleness and kindness and hope.

I find instead, to my own dismay, that the only word that actually comes to me right now is: numb.

I don't know how to help. I don't know what will make things better. I don't even know how to frame a sentence that would capture all the words that this dark event explodes into. How to try and make the world make sense again. Again.

How to try and not become immune to the pain. And not become immersed in the pain. How to find the words necessary to stay present without somehow normalizing the wars which now seem to be waged everywhere. Anytime.

'... after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.'

Elijah retreats to a cave when Jezebel threatens his life, and he is ready to give up. 'Just kill me now and get it over with,' he says to God. But God says something else. In the silence, God says, 'Get up, and return to life. And trust me.' Not every message is in our words; not every message has words.

Sheer silence is not always indifference. Sometimes it is God taking a breath.