FINE. LET’S PRAY.
A response to the shooting at Covenant Christian School in Nashville, TN, on March 27, 2023. In Memoriam of Katherine Koonce, Headmaster of the school and loved, long-timed educator at Christ Presbyterian Academy, where LJ attended elementary though high school.
I thank you for another day to breathe, though it feels foreign, clouded. Fragmented between sips of coffee and body cam footage and the memory of Katherine’s voice calling my name down the hallway with that unwavering lightness, like she is about to tell a joke. Like someone who is always happy to see you.
In the wake of the impossible, on a day that marks time with another line in the gravel of before and after, the ground is beginning to look like barbed wire. I pray you make yourself profoundly known to the people of Nashville, Lord, to the families and friends of those we lost at Covenant.
Dear God, I have never made a more earnest bid, that you make good on your promise and be near to the broken hearted. I pray the grief comes quickly because you are there to hold it. And that we are strong enough to hold it for each other, as I have experienced many times before. I wonder if you hear the tambour of grief like colors, because I can hear the sound of the same community I have grieved with like a sustained note in the parking lot and that volley ball court and the chapel and the hope house and looking through the nursing room window from the back of the sanctuary. I can hear it playing again, Lord, and it is louder than ever.
Dear God, I am angry. But you know this.
You are not scared of my anger, Christians are scared of my anger.
I have been wrestling with you like Jacob for longer than makes a good Christian comfortable.
But I am not a good Christian, and you seem to be okay with that.
I am angry that Katherine Koonce is dead. I am angry she was murdered. I am angry there are 6 people who were here two days ago that are not anymore. I am angry three children will never grow up. I am angry that my hometown is terrified and full of sorrow.
I am angry that no one seems to want to do anything about it.
I am angry that thoughts and prayers and condolences are used as a fail safe, used as a shield against feeling the weight of guilt that we haven’t done anything for this long. Like letting vegetables rot in the fridge, or dirt accumulate in the sink, or the infection of an untreated wound.
But fine. I will humble myself. I will do what is asked of me and I will pray. Though I doubt many people believe my fucking queer trans nonbinary prayers reach the same hotline, I will pray.
Sorry for cursing.
Dear God, I pray that this tremendous grief incites a radical action.
That you give Bill Lee and Marsha Blackburn and Andy Ogles or anyone really, the courage to reject the favor of men and the temptation of money and power so that they can lead our community with grace and humility towards a future that is safe and welcoming for all people.
I pray no one buys an AR-15 ever again, because what on earth could you possibly need one for except to cause destruction or maintain the illusion of control.
I pray that we use this as an opportunity to reckon with the pain the church has wrought in whose name? The God I know believes I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Even reading to children in drag about Ruby Bridges. Especially when reading to children in drag about Ruby Bridges.
I pray that we do that painful work of changing so we can end the pain of staying the same.
Thank you that I am in good company when I speak these words.
Thank you, that though the world is trembling, there is a rumble, a hunger to see each other more clearly.
Thank you, for the opportunity to be alive when the facade is cracking.
I pray that it shatters completely.
They told me to pray, Lord.
They told me to pray.
They told me to pray, as though I have not been praying
for a very, very long time.