We knew they would come. We knew that the haters would burst in, angry and hell-bent, and cause carnage. We did not have the luxury of thinking "It can't happen here." Or "It can't happen to us." We may not have said it out loud. We did not want to give energy to the horrible thought. But we knew they would come and shatter any sense of safety; shattering any sense of hope, like an AK-15 bullet passing thru flesh and bone. We are devastated. We are shocked.
The unique and universal events in Pittsburgh, did not just happen to we Jews. It happened to the hopes of many people. It continues the harm of our national dialogue.
But we knew YOU would come, too. The phone calls and flowers. The hand-written notes and candles. The ministers and imams and nuns who write to us from around the state and the nation. The anguished messages of "What can we do to help you?"
100+ people from all walks of life came and sat and prayed and sang and hugged and listened together at Temple Israel in a quickly gathered memorial. We are not alone. We are rich in what we have. We need each other's support to feel together, to let fear and anger and grief and what all else we feel, flow thru us in the larger body of community. That is what we did, we accompanied each other in our time of loss.
We know that you stand with us. We know that you will come to our house, our sanctuary and sing with us, pray with us, act with us. You will not leave us isolated and alone; nor we you. As Sherill Hogan said at our gathering "If you're not safe, I'm not safe."
The day of the shooting, we were praying. The evening of that day 100+ people donated, via a silent auction, enough money to send a shipping container of humanitarian aid to refugees in Idlib. The next morning, Sunday, we gleaned with our Jewish and non-Jew friends at Atlas Farm and donated the food to up to 8 shelters and food distributors around the county. Later that morning, the people of All Soul's Church took in my slightly revised sermon, previously scheduled, to take in the context of Saturday's event. I spoke about Jew-hatred and it's long history. And I returned to my original theme: How to we live into the Edenic and prophetic vision of a just and sharing food based economy. How do we use the energy and intelligence of people of all ages to meet our daily needs? The joy of working together to the simple common goal of feeding ourselves is part of the medicine for our culture of fear, fragmentation and disconnection. It is this fear, fragmentation and disconnection that fuels violent behavior. Our whole culture suffers from it.
The people of Pittsburgh turn now to bury their dead. We come out of a period of confusion with whatever resolve is renewed for us when we face loss.
For me, I love my country, my diverse country, more dearly. I value my citizenship, its powers and obligations, more strongly.
And, thank you. Thank you who came and called and sent loving messages. Your kindness is received. Thank you.