Rev. Peter's Poem, "The River" and "Reflections on Las Vegas Shootings"

The River (October's theme is "Courage")

All your life, a river has run
past your door.
You’ve chosen, finally,
to enter its flow.
The raft you’ve built is sound
and well-provisioned.
The paddle’s grip 
fits firmly in your hand.
Now, all that’s left to do 
is to push off 
from the safety of the shore.

Rev. Peter's Reflection on Las Vegas Shootings

And, so, we find ourselves reeling from yet another horrific mass shooting, this one of unbelievable proportion. The latest body count is 59 dead and more than 500 injured. Within a matter of minutes, an outdoor concert venue filled with revelers became a killing field. As one commentator put it last night, “This is the largest mass shooting in American history. Until the next one.” Words cannot describe the depth of my sadness for the families who lost their children, parents, friends in Las Vegas yesterday, and for those injured who will live with the trauma for the rest of their lives.

(Rev. Peter's Reflection on Las Vegas Shootings, con't.)

I am not interested in the debate about whether we call the shooter a “terrorist.” I am not interested in the debate about what constitutes an “assault weapon.” I am not interested in the debate about the intended scope of the Second Amendment. What I am interested in is how we have come to the point as a society where anyone could treat life so callously. It’s easy to pass off the Las Vegas shooter as a “lone wolf” or a “madman.” But we must ask ourselves how the deep divides in our national psyche create an atmosphere where such behaviors have nearly become normalized.

And while the focus this week is on Las Vegas, just as in the past it’s been on Charleston or Sandy Hook or Orlando when mass shootings have occurred in those places, it’s important to understand and appreciate that our neighbors in Chester have lost 24 individuals to gun violence this year. The people of Chester live with the trauma and the fear of an ongoing mass-shooting event that has no end in sight. They are our neighbors and it’s important that we share in their grief and their fear, and that we work to find ways to end the violence that’s happening in our local community.

There are no easy answers, and I have virtually no confidence that our national leaders will find a way forward. Thus, it is up to us. It is up to us to grieve and to mourn the senseless slaughter in Las Vegas and in Chester. It is up to us to build bridges across political and social divides. It is up to us to commit to healing the woundedness in ourselves and each other that leads us to seek confrontation and violence as solutions to our differences. Each of us, in small ways, can break open our hearts out of this heartbreaking event, that we might be healers and helpers and hopers. Let us be fierce in our love for the world and for our neighbors and friends. Not just in the wake of tragedy, but each and every day.

Love,  Peter