It’s 9:30 p.m., Friday, December 14, 2012. Like so many, I watched CNN and wondered how anyone could live through such a tragedy as occurred in Connecticut today. I watched as the community came together in a local church to begin the long process of dealing with their terrible loss. Being a priest myself, I also took notice of the strength the priest of that church displayed as he performed his job as counselor and comforter of the people in his community. I wonder if I could have done half as well. Being in the priesthood is often a challenging and consuming job. We almost automatically ask the simple question, “Why?” And I am sure the debate over guns will be argued back and forth as if merely passing some law could prevent a similar horror. But I don’t think that passing laws or spouting psychological and sociological ‘answers’ will do much toward changing things.
Back in the ‘60’s I was one of those rebellious young adults that thought demonstrating in the streets and making love in the parks was going to change the world for the better. Now that I’m in my sixties and not so crazy (at least, not in that way), I think the only way to change the world is to change myself. So I try to harvest useful information from everything around me. Even things like the senseless murder of 20 children and 8 adults in Connecticut. What have I managed to learn from this and other similar tragedies?
Let me table that question for a moment and present a little background information I’ve already learned. The number one rule of ALL schools of magic is: Everything is connected. Probably the single greatest lesson I learned from discovering The Spell of Making is: How it feels is what it means. And what I’ve learned as a priest is: Love and fear are opposites and can’t exist in the same time and place with each other. So here is what I’ve learned from this ugly, evil, soul-wrenching event:
I can change this. I can’t change it very much. I can’t affect the entire society so this won’t happen again somewhere or some other time. I might not even make much of a difference to those I see many times a week or for long periods of time. But I can change myself. And… everything is connected.
I can change this. What I’m feeling right now is sad and angry. I have to change how I feel about this event before I try to go out in the world and infect others with my feelings. Because… how it feels is what it means.
I can change this. I have to find the right combination of feelings to infuse others with love, not fear. At the very least, I have to find the strength to put away my anger. I can rightfully be sad about this, but any anger I generate will result in fear in others. Love and fear can’t inhabit the same space and time.
That’s my job as part of the Priesthood.
Wanna go change the world?