Today marks the 132nd mass shooting in just the first three months of 2023 in the United States of America. This time the shooting occurred in a Presbyterian church’s elementary school in Nashville in which three nine-year-olds and three adults were killed. The prompt and brave response of the police prevented what could have been many more deaths, given the two assault weapons and gun in the killer’s hands.
Every caring human being cries out for these killings to cease! We ask ourselves, when will the greed of the NRA and gun manufacturers stop? When will the selfish pride of gunowners no longer overrule children’s right to life? And when will public indifference and Congress’s dallying over gun laws end?
How easy it has become to simply say “thoughts and prayers” and flood the killing scene with teddy bears and flowers, when what is really needed is change brought by new effective laws. Congress needs to protect its citizenry by enacting laws to end gun violence. It is absurd that military assault weapons are allowed outside the military. And what can be done specifically to help those with mental illness? How can parents, teachers, friends, neighbors, and employers be quicker to alert authorities whenever they see signs of peculiar or suicidal behavior?
Some say that the time for “thoughts and prayers” is over and action is needed. I would agree that action is needed. But I would disagree that thoughts and prayers are useless.
Perhaps thoughts and prayers seem useless because they’ve not been sincerely tried. It is easy to rotely repeat words of a prayer. It is easy to take a minute to think a good thought for those facing horrific loss. But do our thoughts and prayers go deeply beyond the moment? Are they constant? Do the words we repeat and thoughts we think stay with us in their deepest meaning? Do they cause change for the better and lead to significant acts? Genuine prayer leads to inspiration and that leads to unselfish, compassionate acts. Conscientious striving for good produces untiring expression of love for others, helps us find means to meet their needs.
Ridding our own thought of all anger, hatred, greed and selfishness is a necessary part of genuine prayer. Cleaning our mental house, we find room to fill up full with thoughts from God such as love, kindness, generosity, peace, honesty. This is the hard work of thoughtful prayer and nothing less heals. In quiet reflection ideas come as to how to help.
Today I wrote my congressmen about the need for laws concerning gun violence. Today, too, Romans 8:35-39 came to me to apply to those affected. We can hold the victims–even our entire world–in constant loving thought, knowing we are all in God’s care, far beyond the mortal picture.
The mortal picture of world-wide proliferating problems would entangle us in worry and fear. Epidemics of disease, murder, war, political wrangling, lies, injustices, and loss of good seem to prevail.
But there is a way to unravel mortal tangles through spiritual mindedness–good thoughts leading to good acts. Galatians 5: 17-23 (NKJ) explains, in part: For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like: of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Live the fruit of the Spirit. There is no other way.
Artwork: Tangled Times, Mixed Media, framed, $975. Just finished a week ago and yet to be framed, this piece came through my love of the abstract’s ability to express spiritual concepts. I find myself drawn more and more to the abstract, just as I feel more and more drawn to spiritual ideas. On Arches watercolor paper with pastel, pencil, and watercolor, this piece will be framed this summer. (Note the light streaks working to overcome the tangles).