By Derek Penwell
God of all people, please be there in the midst of it all. In the midst of the tears, and adrenaline, and stark horror … please be there. And more than that, help us to find you there … with tears on your cheeks and the blood of your children still on your face. We need to know that you’re there with us, in the thick of it … where the vomit and the gore ruin our khakis, and the smell settles into our pores, threatening to become a permanent part of the way the world smells to us.
Please be there, O God. For those family and friends who feel abandoned by you, please be there in ways that offer if not comfort, then at least the strength to make it through the next few minutes until the next wave hits.
For the LGBTQ community, allow them to experience the solidarity of support they have every right to expect from us. Let the voices of all those who love and celebrate their lives drown out the vile hatred they too often feel from those who too often claim to speak on your behalf. May the fear our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer sisters and brothers suffer prompt us to greater heights of vigilance and hospitality on their behalf.
For our Muslim sisters and brothers who find themselves once again having to defend themselves and their faith because of the violence and hatred of a few, help them to feel the love and support of their neighbors more profoundly than the hatred and fear of those who blame them.
For law enforcement and the people who have to clean up this mess, who also feel afraid, and sad, and like they’ve failed, please bear them up to be able to face the horror that lies in front of them, and to be able to transform the memories of what lies behind them into something more than just raw terror and disgust.
And for us. Please be there for the rest of us, who struggle to figure out how we’ve allowed a world to exist where LGBTQ people who already experience life in our society as an enterprise fraught with potential danger, and who must continue to come to terms with our inability to offer safety and security for the most vulnerable. Help us to find the words to put to our rage and despair, to find the words to comfort those who need be comforted, to find the words to speak justice and peace to a world bent on filling graves with the bodies of your children, to find the words necessary not to meet this violence with more violence.
Forgive us that we have passively sanctioned a world in which people live in constant terror because of whom they love or how they express their true nature. Rather than paralyze us, let our guilt motivate us to work with you to help create a world in which only those who sow hatred need ever experience fear.
Please be there, O God. Please. We don't know what else to say.