Crack…the walls of my home shudder. I think, Something terrible just happened.
This weekend marks twenty years since the Oklahoma City Bombing of the Murrah Building heralded a new era of global terrorism. At the time I was a suburban housewife, raising my family in a “safe” little community, in a “safe” state (not counting the tornadoes.)
The days and weeks that followed the bombing impacted all the residents of the city, profoundly. We walked around in shock, crying or numb. Forever changed.
Personally, the bombing tumbled my world view. But not necessarily in a bad way. It certainly wiped out my illusion of living in a “safe” bubble of geography. Until that time, terrorism was a remote problem in foreign countries. A bomb going off in a Middle East cafe, taking out innocent bystanders, brought only a mild shrug.
I had no compassion. No empathy. American middle class me, could not identify.
After Oklahoma City, I could feel the pain. I understood the shock and anguish of 911. I recognized those desperate souls holding up pictures captioned Have You See Her? They were my people.
Since then, I’ve felt the pain for the families of people caught up in global massacres, disasters, and tragedies profoundly in my heart.
The illusion of my safe, insulated life was forever stripped away, but I gained global awareness. We are all in this thing called life together. Terrible things are going to happen. How do we respond?
There are no easy answers. But, compassion is a good beginning. In small ways, I’ve tried to make my corner of the world a kinder, more loving place.
Perhaps, the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is the best response we can take to honor lost loved ones and create hope for the future.
Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.