This morning I received a text message from my colleague Pastor Andy Jacob. He messaged me and other clergy of the old 9th ward to tell me that a person has been shot and killed at the corner of 24th and market. He asked if we could be there to create a presence of peace and blessing.
So I went. I went to be with Pastor Andy, to be with the police, my fellow clergy, to be with whoever needed me to be there.
The shooting had happened the night before so by the time we arrived it was just us, the police and someone from the attorney general's office. You couldn't tell that someone had lost their life in front of the Chinese restaurant there on the corner. People were going about their day: waiting for the bus, taking their morning stroll, walking their dogs just as I had been doing only an hour before.
It us not the way a shooting interrupts and tears apart our reality that I'd most disruptive, but the ongoing trauma of acceptance. It is the way violence insinuates itself. We become inured it to it. We forget that the taking of life is a profane act, not something normal no matter what the neighborhood or the victim. So if I and my colleagues from the 9th ward can go and shine a light, reminding us all that we should be uncomfortable with violence, that we should not accept violence, that we should remember that it destroys not only one life at the entire world, then truly we can be a presence of peace.
May we learn to make our presence a blessing.