Thoughts, Ideas and Inspiration by Melissa Earley

Turning Lament into Action

What does it say about me and about our society that I barely noticed when the news ticked off another shooting? This one was in a school in Northern California. But whether in a school, church or shopping mall, in California, Texas, or Virginia – the shootings are all starting to blend together. I met a colleague for coffee yesterday morning. Instead of discussing sermon series, outreach ideas, and best practices in supervision, we talked about responses to active shooters in the sanctuary. We sat in a Starbucks and discussed the limits of hiding and wondered if hurled hymnals take down a shooter over coffee and muffins. The news of deaths and injuries hadn’t made us loose our appetites.

I don’t want to be fearful. I don’t want to be on guard. But I also don’t want to be complacent or apathetic. I don’t want to forget or ignore that the four people who died have left gaps in the lives of those who loved them. Families, and churches, and communities will have to learn now to live without them. Those who are injured may face weeks and months of rehabilitation. Their bodies may heal but their spirits may remain wounded.

I don’t want to grow accustomed to a world where mass shootings happen and congregations and schools and libraries have active shooter drills. I don’t want to tell my nephews’ children someday about the world before everyone was afraid of going into public places, like I tell my nephews about the world before cell phones. I will continue to lament the deaths, the injuries, the fear.

I will turn my lament into action. I will work now so that future generations wonder aloud what it must have been like to live during these days. These days when assault weapons are easy to get and treatment for mental illness is hard to pay for. These days we spend more on incarceration than education. These days when politicians try to pull us apart to win elections instead of bring us together to do good. I will let news of another shooting embolden my commitment to bringing about God’s realm of peace and wholeness for all.


  1. Erin P. Gosser

    Have you found a good outlet for this action? I feel like all I do is give money to organizations…

    • admin

      Well, money is a helpful response. Someone recently shared this with me: Mary Lasker, a health advocate who was instrumental in getting the White House to fund the “war on cancer” in 1971 said, “People want the answer to cancer. They’re not going to get it without spending money because money is frozen energy that unfreezes itself when you pay people to work.”

      I did a google search of organizations working on prevention of gun violence and found a number of organizations. I wrote about them for the church enews which led to me being invited to speak at a vigil on December 13. Because of your question I’m going to suggest to them that they have an info sheet available of ways to be involved.
      here’s a link to the event:

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