A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the swearing in ceremony of Loretta Lynch our new Attorney General and a dear friend. There was hardly a seat in the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. where the ceremony took place. President Obama was at his very best in praising Loretta whom he has known for a long time. I had not seen the president so happy and it showed on his face and in his interaction with the crowd who had come to witness the ceremony. Little did any of us know how soon the President’s smiling face would quickly turn to one of grief and frustration upon hearing of the massacre in Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The President’s cup like my own had “runneth over.” What does one do when ones cup overflows with unbearable agony and grief upon hearing the news of the tragedy? That the tragedy occurred inside of a house of worship during bible study is unimaginable and too hard to understand. So, what do you and I do? How can we cope with the tragic fact of what happened? If your cup is running over as is mine then what must we do?
First, I had to acknowledge that the tragedy did in fact take place. As painful as it was for me I could not be in denial that it occurred inside of a house of worship, during a bible study and the person who allegedly killed nine people was an integral part of that bible study group. How could this be I asked myself and no matter how many times I asked the question I had to acknowledge that it did happen. Until we acknowledge that the tragedy did in fact occur we delay the reality of our pain. Not one of us is exempt from the affects of the killing of nine innocent people.
Secondly, I had to acknowledge my anger was real, so real that I was ashamed of myself longer than I am willing to admit. My anger is the same kind of anger all of us have and when it gets out of control we become as dangerous as Dylann Roof. I confess my anger caused my cup to overflow rendering me null and void and no different than any who are not able to manage their anger. Allow yourself to acknowledge your anger until you can manage it in such a way that you are no longer a threat to yourself or to others. While angry I missed the clues awaiting me which would come from a place I had not expected. However, those clues would provide a way for me to deal with my anger in a way that would not harm anyone. Here are the clues: acts of forgiveness and faith by those who were hurt and harmed the most: the family members of those who were killed. How could I stay angry when I heard their testimonies? How could I even justify remaining angry when I was witnessing such acts of forgiveness and faith? Think about it!
Thirdly, I learned about the real essence of forgiveness and faith coming from those who had lost the most and that kept my cup from running over any further. What I thought I knew about forgiveness and faith I really didn’t know or understand until I witnessed it first hand in the aftermath of the nine deaths. While my cup continued to run over I soon learned I was about to find a way for my anger and grief to abate. But, I had to take to heart what I had witnessed from the families who had lost their loved ones. They were and have always been people of faith and forgiveness. It was a part of their DNA and even though their cups had run over upon hearing of the deaths of their loved ones they dug deeper knowing the well of forgiveness and faith awaited them. My flow began to stop when I heard the testimonies and I saw how the God of my life and theirs is the only answer to the experience of the tragic fact. Scripture tells us:weeping may endure for the night but in the morning cometh joy. And morning did come.
You and I must be willing to wait for morning to come because it will surely come. Wait on it! Wait on it! Morning keeps coming to me as I watched a group of children and parents of different racial and cultural background enjoying the community pool together. They were laughing and playing together without regard to any differences. Morning comes for you and me when we are given a second chance to say “I’m sorry for hurting you. Morning will come to you when you say with the song writers of old “its me, its me, its me O, Lord standing in the need of prayer.” Morning came when one family member faced the accused killer and looked squarely into his eyes and said: “I will never hear the voice of my son again but I forgive you“. Morning comes when you and I are willing to move beyond life’s tragic facts and move to that place where we see and we hear ourselves in need of each other and in need of God. Morning came for my dear friend Esther when she held her three month old granddaughter in her arms upon learning of the massacre in Charleston. Right now, find someone to hold, or to hug and morning will come to you. Morning will come for you and for me when we take time to go deep inside of ourselves and find there the stuff of life that always, always, always stops our cups from overflowing. Wait I say for morning to come. And remember, there is in God, sufficient strength, whatever our needs may be. And so it is!