I interrupt my reflections on the letters with Eugene in order to pause in prayer for all the people of Paris, and all people around the world who have been touched by one of the latest salvos of violence and suffering – all it would seem born out of plain old hatred and intolerance.
The killings and the subsequent sorrow and fear that has spread throughout the world has been hard to watch and listen to, to read of and to somehow come to terms with in my own life.
When I first heard of what was happening in France I did as many others did, turned on the TV and became glued to it – to learn what was happening, who would do such a thing, and why. There were no answers at first, only a huge sorrow within me. A sorrow for the people of Paris who had lost loved ones and who were now sitting in the midst of pain and fear. Terrible soul-gripping fear of what could happen next, and to whom.
But there was an even deeper sorrow – for all of mankind. That someone, anyone could do to another, what was being done. Only the evil of hatred and intolerance could be to blame – but not a whole ‘people’ or race of people. I was not able to pull myself outside of that. And there was upon hearing the news of the end fight in the Concert Hall a deep sadness for the police who had to storm the hall, for those inside of the hall, and for the persons responsible for the attacks for they too were ready to die – for what?
And then to hear that France had closed her borders – of course she did, but I began also to hear from many here in North America that we should do the same. Halt any ideas of bringing over those refugees, who were running from exactly what was being experienced in Paris. We had, some were saying, to close our borders, circle-the-wagons and find a way of making any prospective refugees eligible to enter our country prove that they were not members of ISIS or some other like organization. These people, hundreds of thousands of them who are on roads as winter approaches, on foot walking to find a place where they can be safe and find shelter; where they can feed and bring up their children and send them to school. How could they prove that they were simply people in need any further than just being who they are?
I think back to the Crucifixion, to Jesus on the Cross – didn’t some of the solders and people call out to him to prove he was the son of God? This is an opportunity for all of us to open our hearts and to love others who have less than we do. Here in Canada we have such a huge country, and we have so much to offer. Let’s not talk about closing our borders and protecting ourselves from some unproven fears. Let’s welcome in these people who have nowhere to go, no extra clothing on their backs and no place in which to find shelter. So many are dying as they try to have what we take for granted.
Now is the time for us to push aside our nameless fears and ‘what ifs’. Our prayers will only be real if we live them out. I think of our veterans who went and fought and died in two World Wars, and then later in smaller ones in other places so that we would have the freedom to live as we desired. We are being asked to simply open our hearts and our doors and share a little more of what we have.