Put Away Childish Things

Like a lot of us, I woke up Monday morning to the news about Las Vegas. I’m honored that many of you reached out to talk, pray, and ask about what happened and how to move forward. What and how were huge. 

And why. That one came up a lot.

You know me; I’m not typically wild about the why question. But I’ll take it. It’s inquisitive rather than dismissive. Why isn’t a closed door. I’ll take it.

Those of us who live in Saint Petersburg know that it is, without question, the Finest City on the Face of the Earth. We also know that, because we’re in Florida, there will be hot summers, there will be tourists, and, from time to time, there will be hurricanes. There are certain things we can do about our situation. We can stock up on bottled water and sunblock. We can be more patient on the highway. We can be kinder to our environment. We can, and we should. But when all is said and done, the sun shines, the wind blows, and the beach beckons.

What happened this weekend is not like that.

This is important. Some folks, too many of them, saw this weekend as justification that things are bad and people are worse, as proof that we should shore up defenses and stockpile hate and fear. I saw far too much pessimistic resignation. There is no room for that; it’s a cheapshot, a childish cop-out. There is no "way of the world” other than what you and I choose. Every thought, word, and action we make is a vote for the world we want to live in. And that means that we have a say. It means that we had better keep talking. We had better stay engaged.

So, again. This was not a force of nature. This was a matter of choice. We can make better decisions. We can grow.

The core teaching here at Water and Stone is oneness. We believe that there’s only one Presence and Power in the universe. The Old Testament reminds us that "the Lord thy God is one" over and over again. Jesus Christ reminds us to carry that oneness into action, over and over again. Our mission is radical love and inclusivity.

So when you’re trying to decide what, if anything, to do, oneness is a pretty good litmus test. Ask yourself if you are working for oneness. That next Facebook post, that next conversation, that next appointment with the ballot box helps to create the world we share. How will you fill it?

Some will move forward in fear. They’ll get concealed weapons permits and stream John Wayne movies. They’ll imagine that life is somehow better when it resembles the Wild West.

But it’s time to grow up. We have too many things to do now, and we have something inside us too big, too great, too important to hide it behind cowardice any more.

Let’s stand up for peace. Let’s not pass up the opportunity to move towards, and with, oneness.

But let’s move. If we really listen to our hearts, it’s impossible to hold still. Fear paralyzes, love calls. Litmus test number two, then: Does it move you?

That’s the thing. Prayer isn’t a substitute for action. It’s not the end of anything. Prayer is the beginning. If somebody offers their "thoughts and prayers," but not their hands and hearts, they’re doing it wrong. Prayer is an invitation, not a dismissal.

So pray. Get as clear as you can about your relationship with God. Get as strong a sense of radical love as you’re able. And then let it move your heart. And then let it move your feet. Say the prayer. But then be the prayer. That’s how this works.

So let’s get to work.