Reaction and Action

Upon learning of the Tuesday morning attack at a residential center for people with disabilities in Sagamihara, Japan, I wept.

I wept for the sleeping souls who will never again awaken, for their families and friends left to mourn their sudden and tragic deaths. I wept for my brothers and sisters with disabilities who may feel afraid, and I wept for our world. Tears of anger and sadness.

Calling a friend to ask if she had heard this horrifying news, felt like something I needed to do. As we talked about the senselessness of this massacre, she said something that seemed profound. “Let’s just pray that we, as two people on the phone, and we as a society, never get so callus that we do not react with tears and anger at the news of such tragedy.”

This was powerful because it seems every day we wake to tragedy and injustice being reported from somewhere. How often do we feel shaken by the violence reported on tv, in social media and we react, but don’t respond? But what do we do? Of course we want to pray to a Comforting God and ask for peace. I think we should. Like the imprisoned John the Baptist, my heart questioned. So my next conversation was with my pastor. My pastor suggested that I use this pain and turn it into action. And another friend suggested I write a prayer. So my first action was to write some thoughts, and my second to share them.

A dear friend gave me a wonderful gift, a book that I often turn to, and I’d like to share with you a poem as a prayer…

Taken from Out of the Ordinary, Copyright 2000 by Joyce Rupp. Used by permission of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved.

Leaning on the heart of God

I am leaning on the heart of God.

I am resting there in silence.

All the turmoil that exhausts me

Is brought to bear on this great love.

No resistance or complaint is heard

As I lean upon God’s welcome.

There is gladness for my coming.

There is comfort for my pain.

I lean, and lean, and lean

Upon this heart that hurts with me.

Strength lifts the weight of my distress.

Courage wraps around my troubles.

No miracle of instant recovery.

No taking away of life’s burdens.

Yet, there is solace for my soul,

And refuge for my exiled tears.

It is enough for me to know

The heart of God is with me,

Full of mercy and compassion,

Tending to the wounds I bear.

I will be taking further actions to speak out against the violence of ableism. I pray others will do the same. Awareness of this, often discreet, dehumanization of people with disabilities, is key to stopping the violence. Continued prayers for peace, mercy and love for all peoples.

Terry Martinez

UCC Disabilities Ministries

Board of Directors, Vice Chair