My minister was at church on Sunday, even though she’s supposed to be out on vacation. Most Unitarian Universalist ministers take a break in the summer, and the congregations have guest speakers. But, along with probably every UU minister there is, our minister was back in her church on Sunday because of the shootings at the UU church in Knoxville on the last Sunday in July. The kids in Knoxville were performing the play Annie for their community, and a man walked into the sanctuary with a shotgun and opened fire. He killed two people, wounded others. Here’s an interview with a man who helped stop the gunman that’s definitely worth reading.
Lex always stays with me during church instead of going with the other kids to the children’s classes. He doesn’t do it for any other reason than being genuinely interested in the sermons, whether it’s about Pagan rituals or Buddist principles or social justice. He likes to talk about them with me afterwards, and he always participates by lighting a candle and sharing a joy or a sorrow from his life with the bemused congregation. Still, I was a little bit apprehensive about having him stay with me on Sunday. It’s so hard to let go, to let him go, into this world where shit like that happens in schools and churches and shopping malls. I was glad to have him next to me, though. We had a guest speaker who transformed her original sermon on Lammas into a lovely tribute to the congregation in Tennessee. It was a hopeful talk, and inspiring, but so very sad as well.
Probably all the UU churches in the world found a few minutes on Sunday to sing Tomorrow from Annie. The day after the shootings when everyone was gathered together, the children sang that song as a way to find some closure to this terrifying event they’d experienced. They’d worked for such a long time, practicing for their play, and they never got to finish it. You know how important that is to kids, especially when everything else is turned upside down. So they chose that song to give to their community. And, oy, did Lex and I ever cry and choke our way through it. We sang, though. Afterward, he looked at me, crying and gave me a long hug, and once again I was reminded how having children is really like having your heart walk around outside your body.