Claire Davis, a young 17 year old high school student remains in a coma having been shot by one of her classmates who then took his own life. How many more times do we have to witness such tragedies in what was once thought to be the safest place for our children to be-our schools? Like many of you I am becoming numbed by the recurring violence against our children. They are the innocent ones. They are our future and our hope for tomorrow so why are they becoming the targets of unspeakable violence?
The Governor of Colorado has asked the nation to offer prayers for Claire whose condition has worsened so I am encouraging all who might be reading this entry to join with me in prayer for her and for all of the children who have died this past year while in school. Pray this madness will cease so our children will no longer have to fear attending school. How long Lord, How Long?
One speaker at the Celebration of Life for Nelson Mandela said: "how we treat our children is the most important job we have." I must however, ask the question "how can I protect our children while I am in search of a lost humanity?" How can you and I learn how to navigate the shark infested waters of a world searching for its own soul? I am baffled by my words and I find myself struggling to find ways to keep myself from sinking into the abyss of despair and hopelessness. When this happens to any of us we are prone towards depression and cynicism. We retreat into ourselves to shut ourselves off from the matters of the world. If we do this we are doomed.
I am really struggling to keep my faith intact in these turbulent times. I confess the water in my well is running low these days and I am trying to maintain my balance so that I don't accumulate grievance nor wallow in pity. I want desperately to believe the words of the old Spiritual: "I'm so glad trouble don't last always." These are indeed challenging times for you and for me so we must find an opening. I realize the importance of staying strong and faithful when the storms of life are waging war against our spirit. But somehow I am having trouble maintaining my spiritual balance as I am being smothered by a humanity searching for itself. How long Lord, how Long" I cry? When will the storm pass over? How long will I be trapped in the wilderness of life?
1. I admit that I am trapped. I admit that I feel powerless. I admit that I am struggling to find a discipline for myself that I can share with others who may feel as trapped as I am.
2. I confess that I, Paul Smith am standing in the need of prayer. I confess I am baffled by what is happening in and around the world. Unless I am brutally honest about what I am feeling it will take me longer to find a place of healing.
3. As difficult as it may be I must find some place, some person or some music or some time for deep silence and listening. My issue is not with the God of my life as much as it is an issue with my self. Until I can be stripped of all that I thought I knew and understood and throw myself upon God's mercy, I am a long way from healing.
4. I remembered! I remembered! In a previous entry where I reflected upon my experience while attending the Celebration of Life service for President Nelson Mandela. I remember several sacramental moments when I came alive again. I was totally absorbed in the music and the singing of various choirs. I shouted "amen" and "yes" on several occasions as I absorbed the words of songs like "Safe in his Arms and Even Me". I felt the warmth of strangers sitting next to me who later became friends as together we found common ground. My weeping hours had turned into sounds of joy. My anxieties and my longing for relief from turned instantaneously into new possibilities for me. My quest for answers to my restlessness became questions that touched me deeply. In that moment I got my groove back and my hope was restored.
How Long Lord, How Long? remains-not long Lord, not long! I am learning not to lament too long but find ways to celebrate. I find ways to respond to life's tragic facts with love and freedom. I learned that I should never underestimate the power of hope. Hope has revealed itself to me in countless ways these past two weeks so I must maintain my gait and maintain my strength. I am learning to remain focused, determined and disciplined so that I may continue to be what I believe God intends for me and what God intends for you. I close with the words which have defined my ministry, my service and my life: I don't feel no ways tired. I come to far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy, I don't believe God brought me this far to leave me."
And so it is!