A couple of years ago I volunteered to manage our church’s Facebook page.
There were two things I said I wouldn’t be responsible for: all of the pictures, all of the time (I simply can’t be everywhere), and responding to the messages. That, I felt, should be church leadership. I still feel that way, but our church is small, and our priest is on sabbatical. So I’m handling the messages as best I can, which usually means referring them to someone else.
Last Sunday we got several messages asking if our church (which, although small, is very active in the community) was going to hold a vigil for the victims in Orlando. I sent out an e-mail to any and all I thought could help, and the man who’ll be preaching this Sunday responded. His sermon won’t be addressing this tragedy, he told me, and it’s important to him the church does, in whatever way we can.
I have to admit here the shootings didn’t have the same personal impact on me they’ve had on so many: the LGBT community; Orlando citizens, past and present; the Latino community; and others, such as minorities, who in one way or the other have felt disenfranchised during much of their life. But I felt compelled to pursue this, and I’m glad I did.
We agreed the local Interfaith Alliance would be a good next contact. We’re members, in fact our priest helped found the organization, and the alliance is always looking for ways to bring the community together.
Next thing I know Rabbi Rob has pulled together a community-wide vigil, held in front of the museum. I alerted the media, and they responded generously. Rob, Issa, Diego and the others did a remarkable job in a short amount of time.
Diego, a self-described “queer Latino,” is an advocate for the LGBT community at our local rape crisis center. He spoke eloquently about growing up “queer” in El Salvador, hiding his true self from others, and finding refuge and solace in the bars that would play the same music that was playing that night in Orlando where 49 people were killed and dozens of others lay wounded. He was hurting.
He and another young man read the list of names of those who died that night. The list went on forever. Forty-nine suddenly seemed like a much greater number.
I asked him if the vigil was at all cathartic, and he said it was. He spoke for those who died in a way I never could, and it reached people. It reached me.
Today I sent links to the news coverage to Rabbi Rob and Sandy, the man from my church who helped get the ball rolling. Sandy responded by saying he’d forwarded those links to his son, who, as a gay man, was deeply affected by the shootings. I didn’t even know he had a son, and I was pleased to have been part of something that may have bonded the two of them.
I sent a message to those who’d first contacted us through Facebook as well. “You may not hear this from anybody else,” I wrote, “but you can be proud of the fact that it was your message, along with a similar message from someone else, that kicked off the chain of events that led to the vigil. Thank you for your concern.”
One woman wrote back, “my daughter is always wanting to do something for the community. I’m glad I can tell her little things can grow.”
Send the note, plant the seed, make the suggestion. Maybe that’s all you can do, but the person who receives the message may know the people who have all the right contacts for desired end result.
It’s good to be a link in a chain of healing.
Image Credits (Top) © Graphic Stock (Bottom) © Bigstock