Yet again, I find myself without words.
Rarely do news stories bring me to the point of tears and silence, but today, I find lumps forming in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes as I read and listen to stories related to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The last, and perhaps only other, time this has happened to me was following the shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015.
After the shooting, I found myself grappling with the fact that anyone could harbor so much hate in their heart that they would go into a church to shoot and kill innocent people.
My sorrow, anger, and despair only grew in the days following the shooting.
During that time, I witnessed pickup trucks driving around the Sate Capitol of South Carolina, proudly bearing Confederate flags and messages such as, “Heritage, not hate.” Passerby would affirm these messages with shouts of, “Long live the South!”
And all the while, I struggled to understand how racism and hate could be so deeply woven into the fabric of the seemingly tolerant, diverse society in which we proclaim to live.
Then, about two weeks after the shooting, I witnessed one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen. And suddenly, a small bit of hope broke into the midst of my silent despair.
With that sunset came a profound knowing that love and grace know no limits; that even in the darkest of days, divine love breaks into our lives to fill us with love, compassion, and forgiveness. That even while the world thrives on violence and hate, the divine thrives on hurling shards of love and grace, comfort and peace into the heart of our deepest pain and despair.
This time, I’m hoping that a sunset of hope comes sooner, rather than later. That somehow, we discover unending, all-encompassing love breaking into the layers of grief and confusion and anger that are bound to arise in the aftermath of today’s violence.
But, perhaps, this time, even if we fail to see a sunset of hope on the horizon, we can take comfort in knowing that the divine speaks words of peace and love to us and through us—through our actions, through our presence, and through our words.
Maybe then, we can act accordingly, sowing seeds of love where there is hatred, seeds of peace where there is unrest; and seeds of healing, where there is brokenness.
In the aftermath of yet another news story entrenched in racism and violence, may we finally have the courage to face our deeply-seated hatred and fear and offer it the balm of love and forgiveness.
Author: Elise Scott
Image: @elephantjournal Instagram
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Leah Sugerman