NOTE: Today’s reflection is from my good friend Rachel, who led the Lenten retreat earlier this year that helped me rediscover my prayer life and rekindle my love for the Examen and Ignatian spirituality. She is one of the prophets in my life.
DAY 6 FOCUS: Notice the Holy
For the sixth day of our prayer challenge, let us ask the Spirit to help us see God’s presence:
- Spirit, give us fresh eyes and help us recognize your presence in our daily lives, in the people around us, in the everyday activities and the mundane, in the most unexpected places.
- Spirit, help us see your Light, especially in situations that seem only darkness.
- Spirit, give us eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to love as we pray together for our children and schools, in light of the challenges they face, both big and small. May our children and those who teach and care for them be given the vision to see where You are, and to have the courage to follow wherever you may lead them.
REFLECTION: Desolation and Consolation After the Santa Fe Shooting
Written by Rachel I. Stott, MDiv.
There have been at least 228 school shootings in the US sin Jan 1, 2009, 57 x more that the other six G7 countries combined. source
Seven children and teens are killed with guns in the US on a average day. source
I hear these statistics. I comprehend their meaning only insofar as I understand the English language. Truly grasping this reality is beyond what my brain can take, let alone my heart.
The words of the prophet Habakkuk come to mind.
How long O Lord? I cry out for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and clamorous discord. (Hb:1-3, NAB)
It is as if Habakkuk wrote about Las Vegas, Parkland, Santa Fe…and all the many more.
St. Ignatius of Loyola describes desolation when “we find ourselves enmeshed in a certain turmoil of spirit or feel ourselves weighed down by a heavy darkness or weight.”(Spiritual Exercises, n. 317).
This pretty much sums up how I feel when contemplating the horror of gun violence- as though there is no hope, no way forward, no light amid the darkness. It is as though evil is telling me to give up.
Our hearts and souls are the battleground for the forces of Evil and of Good. Despair and desolation may be the devil’s best friends, but we can fight back with Love and Hope.
Following the Parkland shootings, we as country witnessed the strength and courage of the teens as they stood up to the adults who failed them and said no more. They organized The March For Our Lives and showed a way forward.
A ray of light in the darkness.
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Splatt wrote “Found/Tonight” a mash-up from the musicals Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen. Lyrics were slightly re-purposed to fit the mission of the March For Our Lives and part of the money raised by the song will go to this effort it will raise.
I saw the song video the day after its release on a Retreat in Daily Life. With this small circle of women, I watched on a laptop. Spontaneously, we held each other’s hands and cried.
We are all mothers in this group. We all see the horror and fear in children’s eyes. We prayed with vulnerability. We were authentic in our sadness and found comfort in one another. It was an in-breaking of the Kingdom of God where hope, love and goodness were as clear as day.
And it was as real as evil. But more powerful.
Consolation came in the form of community. In solidarity with those who suffer, I was given strength to believe and know that God is indeed present.
l will forever be grateful to these women for they restored my hope. Through them, I could see God even in the midst of evil. They are a channel for the Spirit, telling me do not give up. Showing me love is more powerful and that evil will not win the battle for my heart and soul.
To learn more about the Ignatian principles of consolation and desolation, click here.