logo

An Attack on Holiness

from Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our own image, according to our likeness’ . . . So God created humankind in God’s image, in the image of God, God created them. – Genesis 1 

[A] gay club became my sanctuary --  a place to connect with other LGBTQI Latinx people, to listen to music in Spanish, to hear conversations in Spanish or Spanglish, to see the beautiful faces of my communities coming together. It was at this sacred place where one day, I saw the most gorgeous man on Earth; the man that became my love, my companion and my husband. A gay club can be and it is a sanctuary for many of us. A gay club is a sanctuary for those of us who have grown tired of churches, synagogues, temples, ashrams and mosques telling us that we are not worthy. A gay club is a sanctuary for those of us who have been rejected by family and friends because we have chosen to live our true selves. – Rev. J. Manny Santiago, Executive Director of The Crossing Campus Ministries in Madison, WI

It is . . . not lost on us that this horrific tragedy occurred during LGBTQ Pride month, which this year coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, typically a period of peace and intense self-reflection. It pains us to see that these periods of joy, celebration, and peace have been marred so violently with such horror. -- From a statement from The Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD)

In Orlando, lives created in God’s own image have been lost and shattered in a place of sanctuary in a holy month.

On April 19, 1995, my husband picked me up from an all-day event. In those days before most of us owned a laptop or a cell phone, being in an all-day event meant that I hadn’t heard any news since he’d dropped me off early that morning. Our conversation as I stepped into the car went something like this:

“There was a bombing today in Oklahoma City.”

“Really? What are we going to do for dinner?”

For a moment, overwhelmed by the horror of something so awful happening in a place so ordinary, I closed my heart to the news. I refused to take it in.

Later, of course, I watched the news, I read the stories, I saw children’s art depicting bloody footprints walking away from the building, and for many days, I wept, my heart broken open.

But I still vividly recall that first instant. I can still see in my mind the exact place we were when it happened. I can still feel the physical sensation of ice at my core.  I still know the temptation to close myself to the painful reality of the world.

And so I know there is a reason why the Bible I love says so often, “Do not harden your heart.”

Today as I contemplate yet again the unthinkable, I want to keep my heart open… even though an open heart is inevitably a broken one.

In Orlando, lives created in God’s own image have been lost and shattered in a place of sanctuary in a holy month.

To those who lost their lives, those who struggle for survival, those who witnessed carnage and will be ever-impacted by it . . . and to those who love all who were so directly impacted . . . may I not harden my heart.

To the LGBTQI community, reminded yet again that hatred can quickly become murder – as it does so often in less-noticed times and places . . . may I not harden my heart.

To my Muslim friends and neighbors, outraged and horrified as I am by this act of extreme hatred, and also worried for their own safety and that of their children . . . may I not harden my heart.

To communities of color who see yet again that they have been systematically targeted in a society willing to accept that some lives matter more than others . . . may I not harden my heart.

To the Latinx community in particular whose grief upon reading the names of the dead cuts to the core . . . may I not harden my heart.

To all those who are marginalized and feel even more vulnerable today than they did on Saturday . . . may I not harden my heart.

To the people of Orlando, a city in which I have spent some of the happiest days of my life, now yet another place whose name will evoke images of slaughter . . . may I not harden my heart.

To the countless victims of gun violence, and especially those mothers and fathers who believed and prayed that the massacre of their children might bring change in our gun laws, parents who have waited incredulously as that change has been stymied and defied and deferred until the heart grows sick. . . may I not harden my heart.

In Orlando, lives created in God’s own image have been lost and shattered in a place of sanctuary in a holy month . . . may I not harden my heart.

And may my broken-yet-again heart be a place for the work of God.  “Justice is the outflow of the broken heart,” writes James Finley. May it be so. 


Peacemaker Fair Trade Project Meet Our Members Donate to BPFNA Buy Resources