That was the prayer of our pastor yesterday in church.
Just — Help.
She didn’t have any other words.
No comfort, no platitudes, no trying to explain what happened.
And a heart cry of –HELP.
Help – the panicked cries and frantic texts from inside Pulse, as bullets flew and an LGBT sanctuary was violated.
Help – the grief-choked sobs of family members as they waited to hear if their loved ones were alive or dead.
Help – the terrified whispers of those who were outed in a very public, unscheduled, violent, out-of-their-control way.
Help – the overwhelmed pleas of LGBT centers as people flooded their facilities, looking for comfort, connection, and strength in numbers.
Help – the tears and fears of other LGBT Americans who can’t help but think that the same thing could happen to us.
It’s the right prayer.
A few of us met up at Veteran’s Memorial Park on the square in Carlisle at 6 PM yesterday to observe a moment of silence in honor of the victims, as requested by Florida’s governor. As we stood silently in a circle, the many church bells of Carlisle’s downtown began to chime. At first, they were each in sync, chiming out the hours, but then, as the sixth bell ended, they launched into their nightly hymn, each clanging out a different song.
It went from a somber, peaceful, reflective backdrop to a cacophony -noisy, hollow chaos. The notes banging into each other, each of the hymns fighting to be heard, and the only thing I could think of was a verse from 1 Corinthians: What if I speak in the most elegant languages of people or in the exotic languages of the angels, but I live without love? Well then, anything I say is like the clanging of brass bells, or a crashing cymbal.
That’s the prayer for a new day.
Love — even if you don’t understand what happened
Love — your neighbors. Yes that means the gay ones AND the Muslim ones
Love — your community. Stand with them as they gather, light candles, mourn, and move forward together.
Love – the people who aren’t like you.
Love — even when it’s so very hard.
Just Love. With so much hate in the world, we need to love.
That’s the prayer for today.
Tomorrow night, Carlisle will honor those lost in Orlando with a candlelight vigil on the square. But it’s not just for Orlando. It’s for us too. We’re a small town. Let’s show up and be a small town with a big heart.
Let’s stand on the side of love. Together.