I’ve been at a loss for words since the horrific school shooting in Florida, unable to enter the darkness for fear of losing myself. Thankfully, the prayer “Mercy” found its way to me; it’s from the blog “Not a Starving Artist Girl” by Jessica Lemmons (shared here by permission). I warn you, these are not easy words.
For the child who went to school and will never come home: we mourn.
For the mother who stares at the bed that didn’t get made that morning, who must now plan it’s occupant’s funeral: we mourn.
For the father who would give anything to catch his daughter sneaking out the window one more time: we mourn.
For the little brothers and sisters who now have to navigate this terrifying world without their idol to blaze the way for them: we mourn.
For the older siblings who now must exist without the first child they helped raise: we mourn.
For the dog who keeps looking out the front window at 4:15, waiting for his human: we mourn.
For the teacher who took the bullet and still lost their students: we mourn.
For the teacher who was out sick and now feels that they sent a substitute to die in their stead: we mourn.
For the girl who will never again hug her first love: we mourn.
For the boy who just lost the one friend he’d come out to: we mourn.
For the choir director who is forever missing their singers: we mourn.
For the cafeteria worker who remembers each day why she doesn’t need to prepare that serving of gluten free food anymore: we mourn.
For the young artist who can’t use red paint without smelling the blood: we mourn.
For the Columbine survivor who prayed they’d never have to mentor in this way: we mourn.
For the survivor who lives in a world where live tweeting a massacre is possible: we mourn.
For the children who will never again enjoy fireworks: we mourn.
For the grandparent who scours the internet for bullet-proof backpacks: we mourn.
For the new teacher wondering if they’re ready to lay down their life for children they haven’t met yet: we mourn.
For the student teachers now changing their major because they’re afraid the answer is “no”: we mourn.
For the mother who weeps in the morning drop off line: we mourn.
For the father who stares at the picture on his desk and prays his kid isn’t next (because he knows there will be a next): we mourn.
For the first grader who knows what to do in an active shooter situation: we mourn.
For the nation that has made all of this a necessity: we weep.
For a gun lobby that has prioritized sales over children at school: we rage.
For a congress that offers empty condolences as they accept NRA donations: we rise up.
For a government that remains silent as we cry out for them to do something: we vote.
For a president who reminded us of the “very fine people on both sides”: time’s up.
OUR CHILDREN ARE DYING AND YOU DO NOTHING. YOU BEG US TO CONSIDER BECOMING TEACHERS AS WE WATCH BABIES WAIT LIKE LAMBS FOR THE SLAUGHTER. YOUR MOMENT OF SILENCE HAS GONE ON LONG ENOUGH.
(from Jessica Lemmon, “Mercy” on “Not a Starving Artist Girl”)
Glenn Pemberton is a minister turned professor turned writer. After serving churches in Texas and Colorado, Glenn completed a Ph.D. (Old Testament). He then taught at Oklahoma Christian University before coming to Abilene Christian University in 2005, retiring as professor emeritus in 2017 due to a severe chronic pain. Glenn now spends his time writing for the church. Along with short essays he has published four books, including The God who Saves: An Introduction to the Message of the Old Testament (2015), and Hurting with God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms (2012). Glenn and his wife Dana continue to live in Abilene, Texas.