Pastoral Letter about the Las Vegas Shooting

The shooting violence in Las Vegas last night leaves us stunned, shocked, grieving and angry that a mass shooting has killed almost 60 people, injured over 500 and terrorized thousands. We are all touched by this violence. Some of us have loved ones in Las Vegas and are waiting for word that they are all unharmed. Some of us have friends of friends who were there at the concert. Some of us are traumatized listening and watching the news as more and more details emerge. All of us are upset, each in our own way.

We wonder how to cope with an overwhelming day such as this, with this kind of news layered on top of all our other concerns. As one of my colleagues wrote, “This tragedy will bring up moments of deep trauma and memory for many in our community and society. Now is a time to offer kind words, loving presence, and compassion. Please be gentle with one another and reach out to those in need of care. Take a nap, take a walk, ask for a hug, check-in on a neighbor, and most importantly breathe.” Self-care and being there for each other are core spiritual practices at times like this.

And, it can be helpful to be with others to connect, reflect and pray together.

If you are a parent, grandparent or person who is entrusted with the care of children, this is one of those hard times as we talk with young ones about what they are hearing on the news. First, I would suggest limiting their media exposure. But, then, assure them that they are safe—it’s safe to go to school, movies and concerts. Encourage them to express their fears, anger and anxiety through art, movement or even banging on a drum. And, remind them to look for the helpers, as Mr. Rogers wisely counseled us in the past. Lift up all the brave and compassionate ways that people are helping one another right now, from the nurses and doctors in Las Vegas to first responders to ordinary folks who helped people get out of harm’s way. And let them see you be a helper, modeling loving care, donating blood, or other ways you may wish to help.

Our world is broken in so many ways. And, yet, we are called to love our broken world back into wholeness. None of us alone can do this but each of us can do our part, one hug at a time, one caring gesture at a time, and then, as we catch our breath, one letter to the editor at a time, one phone call at a time to legislators about sane gun laws, and one set of meaningful actions at a time to protect others from having to endure this kind of senseless loss. Together, we help bind these wounds that run so deep. It is our work to do.

But, first, we grieve, together.

Blessings, Reverend Shelley Page