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Assistant Minister's Column

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      I’ve been promising people that our terrible summer is over soon. I promised that after Alton Sterling was shot. Then I promised it after Brad Garafola, Matthew Gerald and Montrell Jackson were killed along with Gavin Long. And now I’ve promised it after one of the most devastating floods in Louisiana.

      I promise an end to this string of tragedies for a few reasons. First, statistically, it has to end at some point. If you flip a coin a hundred times, while it’s going to land heads up about 50 times, it’s natural for there to be strings of 6 or 7 when it lands tails. My predicting the trauma will subside is simply hedging my bets – at some point the tide shifts.

      Second, I promise it because people need it. We need to know that what we experience now is not what we will always experience. We need to be reminded that no matter what the trauma – be it a flood, addiction, illness, or death – while we might not get over it, we will get through it.

      Third, I make this promise as a self-critical reminder that I have little power to control or predict these things.

       Recently I’ve wondered if I should stop making the prediction. Partially, this is because I’m sick of being wrong. But more importantly, it’s because I’m not sure how helpful it is. A part of being alive means we will experience the negative. Loving other people means being heartbroken when they die, or being disappointed and angry when they let you down. Being close to other people means that you will have your toes stepped on.

      The real miracle we see in life is the persistence of love despite the promise of tragedy and death. Whenever I see people reaching out, sheltering evacuees, crying at a memorial service, or in any way yearning for a more just and compassionate world, I see the miracle at work.