I have felt quite shattered by the terrorist attack on Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Dear friends have been shattered by the bombing of a church in Peshawar, Pakistan. There are shattering events every week around the world but it is always these human-on-human horrors that shake to the core.
Terror is nothing new to the world but it is new to me to obsessively check Facebook and Twitter and email until I know the people I love are safe. It is new to me to have the terror strike a place I have been, a place of which I have photos. It is new to me to receive a letter from the director of my children’s school describing how their community has been affected.
As a friend from Minneapolis who also lives in east Africa, said, “It is coming from both sides.” Because it is likely that at least one of the terrorists is from Minneapolis. My beautiful, beautiful city.
I am so sorry, with tears sorry, that I don’t feel this kind of sorrow or shock when terrible things happen to people you love. I feel compassion and grief and I pray with and for you, but when it pierces personal, there is a different kind of sting. And honestly, I think I would explode if I felt like this after every story of the horrible things people inflict on each other.
Earlier this year Lana Hope (hope!) wrote Triggered by Tragedy at Sandy Hook. She wrote about all the painful, grief-filled things she had seen in Asia. And then she wrote,
I remember thinking, “If my friends are angry that 20 kids died, no wonder I’m such a wreck after three years of this kind of evil.
No wonder I’m such a wreck. No wonder that last night, after Kenyan officials finally announced the standoff was over, I turned off all the lights, lit a candle, lay on the floor, and wept. For all of it.
There are few words in times like this, only whispers in the dark, candles barely flickering. No one I personally know was injured or killed. I am still spared another whole level of grief. God be with me when I am not spared because I don’t know how a person continues to breathe.
That is what I am praying for those who taste these tragedies unique and devastatingly close. That you will continue to breathe. In and out. That there will be breath for you when you wake and must face another day. In and out. And that you have someone to hold onto, tight. Someone to hold onto you, gentle.
I am reminded of two sustaining truths, one through Lana’s post.
Because he was bringing in, still is bringing in, an unshakable kingdom. I feel shaken. The kingdom is not shaken. I feel shaken but my trembling legs and wavering heart kneel on a firm foundation.
Though the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. Psalm 75:3
Maybe today we could share our hope. What are some of your most precious promises? What do you cling to when you feel shaken?
-Rachel Pieh Jones, slightly weepy development worker, Djibouti
*image credit Stefano Brivio via Flickr