• Be Still and Know •
I cried in my car on my way to work. I sat in the sanctuary and cried 5 minutes before a staff meeting. I cried on the bike at the gym. That’s how it’s been all week. I never know when it’s going to hit me.
I am no stranger to death, crisis or, tragedy. I don’t usually get anxious in these types of situations. It’s a good skill to have as a pastor, but if not intentionally cared for, it can become distance and coldness, or unhealthy compartmentalization. Being a good pastor does not mean that you cannot cry in front of people, that you can’t feel the pangs of Creation as it groans at yet another tragedy.
No, I don’t usually get anxious in these types of situations. But this time it’s different. I know what it’s like to refuse my lover’s hand or to shy away from their kiss in public. I’ve passed by many bathrooms on the highway because they didn’t seem safe. I’ve panicked when a man walks into a bar, with a gun strapped casually to his hip. It could’ve been me, my love, or my family of choice. Any time, anywhere, without notice and without sense. This is where my fear comes from.
Yes, this time it’s different, but it is not surprising. It’s not surprising that queer people of color were violently attacked and brutally murdered. It’s not surprising that it is another launch pad for Islamophobia. It’s not surprising that politicians immediately tried to steer the conversation away from guns and sexual identity. This is where my anger comes from.
All of our anxiety, fear, grief, and anger come from somewhere. But these things do not come from God. Even if you skip over every word in this piece, I want you to know this one thing: GOD IS HERE.
I spent most of Tuesday internally debating about whether or not I wanted to go to a vigil at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Is this what I need? I am tired and overwhelmed. Can I handle any more? I just want to hole up in my apartment. Is it dangerous? Will we be like fish in a barrel? Will I be sorry that I didn’t go?
I did go. I laced up my boots, threw on my rain jacket, and ventured out into the storm. The sky was clear by the time I got there. As the sun set over thousands of mourners—activists, Muslim, Christian, and Atheist, of various ages, skin colors, and gender identities—I thought, “God is here.”
Written by Molly McGinnis, Pastor in Residence, Central Presbyterian Church, Atlanta