Yes, it was a “mass” shooting in Las Vegas, but the truth is there is no “mass” in what happened this week. Individuals were shot and killed and wounded. Each person had a story. A past, present and future. Each person had a distinctive laugh. Each person had shed tears over something in his or her life — the loss of a parent, a terrible break up, the family pet that died. Some were in love. Others were hoping to fall in love. They liked music and friends. Each person had a favorite meal they enjoyed. A particular brand of shampoo they used each morning. Each person lived in a house or apartment, and decorated a home in a style he or she enjoyed. And each person was looking forward to doing something on Monday morning. Monday morning never arrived.
At least for a few days . . . I will try to keep it going for longer . . . but at least for a few days . . . I want to pay attention to my neighbor and know that every person on the face of the earth has a story. I don’t need to judge their story. I don’t need to feel superior to their story. I don’t need to point out the flaws of their story. I simply want to follow the lead of Jesus and love people for who they are and understand their story better. That’s it. That’s all. I’ve had to turn the television off this morning. I cannot bear the grief of hearing the specifics of these stories. Wives. Husbands. Golfers. Friends. Police officers. Musicians. Students. Medics. Cooks. Moms. Dads. Athletes. Artists. Their stories overwhelm me.
So I will do what I can today — I will love my neighbor as myself; I will try to honor the story that lives inside every human being; and I will try to share as much love, compassion and kindness as I know how to do. Take a Breath today. I’m trying to take one too. We need one another, which is why we’ll remember the stories of these victims in our worship service this Sunday at First Church. We never live in “mass,” nor do we really die in “mass.” We are individuals. We are human beings. We carry within our bodies the stories of our lives. I want to remember that every single day of my life. I especially want to remember it today.