In difficult days, seek space where love can grow

Published 1:18 am Saturday, July 16, 2016


Our president has described the week before last as “a difficult week” for our country; and this past week continued to be difficult as we watched the memorial services and funerals which were the results of the violent week before.

These weeks have caused us to feel compassion for two African-American men who died at the hands of police officers and also for the police officers involved who, no matter what truly happened in those violent encounters, had their lives changed forever in one split second.

We have felt compassion for police officers who died in a senseless, evil act of violence and also for the man who was driven to commit that act. We have felt compassion for the families who survived to deal with that night of violence in Dallas, for their city, and for our nation.

And, our hearts have been broken by the weight of this compassion for so many. But, as our hearts have been broken, there is hope for a different future, a more peaceful future, a better future.

Most of us, perhaps all of us, have hard, stony places in our hearts. But, when our hearts break open, there is room for love to grow. My prayer for each of us and for our nation is that our broken hearts will give way to love growing in new and beautiful ways.

Week before last when violence erupted in so many places, I was at camp with more than 50 children, most African-American, from Pensacola and Mobile. Each night we talked about the story of Jonah and how the story tells us how much God loves each of us. One night as we were leaving the chapel, a young African-American man came up to me and asked, “Is the God who loved Jonah the same God who loves us?” When I answered, “absolutely,” a smile broke across his face that simply lit up the room.

The same God who loved Jonah loves that child, loves me, and loves us all. That understanding, I believe, is what can cause that new and beautiful love to grow in our broken hearts.

Martin Luther King said, “We must all learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools.” As in so many things, he was right about this. We have no choice. We must learn to live together in love, not only in times of crisis when we gather for moments of silence and shared prayers. We must learn to live together by talking together, by working together, and by knowing that one God loves us all more than we can imagine.

It is not easy work, but we have no choice.


The Rev. Cindy Howard is rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Andalusia.