The need for forgiveness

This week has been full of grief in the wake of another school shooting. This time the victims were mostly very young children. The incomprehensible reality of such violence. The sadness is almost too much. And it will not quickly subside. Even forgiveness does not seem to promise very much rest.

I remember the radical actions taken by this Amish community when a killer took the lives of their children. NPR reported about Jonas Beiler, an Amish mental health counselor, who reflected these thoughts one year after the attack:

“Tragedy changes you. You can’t stay the same,” Beiler says. “Where that lands you don’t always know. But what I found out in my own experience if you bring what little pieces you have left to God, he somehow helps you make good out of it. And I see that happening in this school shooting as well. One just simple thing that the whole world got to see was this simple message of forgiveness.”

Beiler says that because the Amish can express that forgiveness, and because they hold no grudges, they are better able to concentrate on the work of their own healing.

For all those who said goodbye unwillingly, I want to stand with them and pray for the miracle of rest:

May [God] surround each adult and child, so tragically departed and those still holding to life, with pure and complete light. May pain flee the body and all anguish fly from the soul. May each victim know himself or herself to be fiercely loved, tenderly held, wholly healed.

May you descend in ways and miracles I cannot imagine on the families whose fabric has been ripped, whose security shattered, whose hearts feel burned to ash. Do not ask us to hold in our anger. While we ultimately hope for the redemption only you can bring about, do not let us speak of such too soon. Would each family today experience nothing but compassion. Would the gross tragedy of their loss be matched by the overwhelming kindness of those near and far. Would Peace arrive, however slowly, and descend upon Newtown: each family, each hospital room, each parent, child, student, teacher, brother, sister.

Read the entire prayer here.