Tragedy in the desert

Sleep does not come easy for me tonight.

It does not come easy many nights, but tonight is different. Earlier Saturday, a young man named Jared Lee Loughner, armed with a pistol, shot and killed six people at a Congressional neighborhood meeting hosted by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, including the Congresswoman, who still lives. Tragically, a nine-year-old girl was among those assassinated.

Christina Green had just been elected to student council. A ballet dancer, Christina had been invited to Giffords’ event by a neighbor who thought she’d be interested in meeting the Congresswoman.

We don’t know yet what motivated Loughner to commit this monstrous act; we’ll find out soon enough, since he was apprehended as he tried to flee the scene. At any rate, I don’t want to write about this tonight. That time will come, but not tonight.

Tonight, on this tragic day, we might ask ourselves what kind of country we are, and what kind of country we might be. We might give ourselves over to a desire for revenge, to find our cup overflowing with anger and bitterness.

We might do that. This country, at once beloved and benighted, is all too divided.

And yet, that is precisely what we do not need in America at this moment. What, then, do we need?

I ask that question of young Christina tonight, and there is only silence. In that hallowed silence, though, lies the answer to our question: what we need in America is not anger, but wisdom; not violence, but compassion; not hatred, but love for one another.

Christina Green was born on 9/11/01; in her death, could not something yet pass from her to all of us?

Tonight, we say our prayers for the dead, and we pray to keep the living; and while we pray, let us also pray for our beloved country, that we may yet achieve a measure of peace and compassion for one another. In our despair, let us pray to receive a measure of wisdom; night may have fallen, but the morning comes. And in that morning, let us redeem the fallen by redeeming the scarred, torn world we all inhabit.

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