As the sun creeped patiently above the horizon solid darkness melted and light formed day. The sweet smell of perennials sailed through the morning breeze, dusting away the staleness of night.
Sacred prayers rose from hearts, churches, and temples around the world. Have you ever wondered how God can be in so many places at one time; hear a multitude of prayers; love every single person unconditionally at the same time?
Humanity becomes intrigued by the attempt to discover the ways of God; the ability to do so, however, is too mystifying for even the brightest minds to conceive. We can study theology, read literature written by the most renown theologians, study with great scholars, but we will always ask the how's and why's as we pray to a God we cannot see.
Our gift of faith encourages us to live in constant search for the power of God surrounding us. Too often the glorious powers of God are missed because we only search for God in positive and beautiful places.
We are connected by the grace of God! Some poets have referred to this reality as the "heartbeat" of God. It is this pulsation that makes it possible for me to cry when a child I have never held dies; to feel sadness when a baby I never kissed is left in an overheated car; to feel broken when a mother drowns her five small children or another mother fatally shoots her children.
Our relationships with God remain in pulsation because of our faith. The acceptance of faith helps us to hold strong whether life ends peacefully or abruptly. When the last breath is taken the soul beats in time with the glory of God.
The Pulse stopped abruptly in Orlando, Florida, on June12, 2016. How difficult it must have been for families and friends of the victims to keep the light of faith burning! Forty-nine people enjoying a life were methodically gunned down. A rhythm of pulses stopped!
Technology captured the horrifying scene as it unfolded. The LGBT community, too often rejected by society, was now being broadcast around the world. In debilitating disbelief, continents of people were brought together. Humanity breathed as one, beating to the steady pulse of God.
In the aftermath of the devastation people questioned, "Where was God when needed?" I ask, have we not been told that God is always with us! Then why would God not be with us in the pain of Orlando?
I know God was in the last text a mother received from her son before he died, "Mom, I love you;" I know God was in the mind of the older brother who opened his phone to see his sister smile on Snapchat just seconds before he saw her wrapped in chaos; I know God was in the calming voice of a friend holding his dying friend. l know God was with the grieving grandmother traveling to Orlando with passengers who wrote her notes, offered her words of comfort, mixing their tears with her tears, and in their words of compassion filling her pain with a message of hope.
It is all right to question God's presence. In life and death by the grace of the Holy Spirit we will never be separated from God's pulse. We live because the pulse of God beats within our souls. We, therefore, can never let the spews of evil and the poignant taste of souring fear stop us from loving, believing, and achieving. The God we have heard about for so long and the God we choose to love beats within our hearts.
The pulse of God connects one human to another and encourages us to question why such violence happens in a world God created to be good; why our shared pulse too often beats to a rhythm foreign to a God of love.
The character assassinations germinating in politics, the exploitation of those living in poverty, educational inequalities, the inconsistencies in health care, and the pains of sexism and racism will continue to move us into frustrating and discouraging positions.
Daily blood flowing from domestic violence, drug dealing, human trafficking, war and terrorism will continue the spiraling effect of what seems to be an out of control world. If we wait too much longer to get in sync with the pulse of God the capability of retaining the sustainability to live as God created us to be will be beyond our grasp.
The night of June 12 many young men and women were enjoying life among friends who had become family. They had finally come home to a place of acceptance and freely lived life as God had created them.
It has become imperative that we find Christ in one another; no matter the creed, culture, or color! We can all meet God beating in the eyes, the hands, the feet, and the hearts of our brothers and sisters. We can take God to where others fear to go, where the wounded fall, the hungry search, the homeless freeze, the sick are dying, the rich search for love, and the youth struggle for acceptance. We can be the grace of God!
Natural disasters, violence and terrorism keep us questioning the whys and the how's. Where was God? God is in the mind that asks and the body that pains. God is as close as our next breath.
Faith keeps us focused on God in tragedy! Hope helps us see beyond the bad with knowledge that goodness will prevail.
Faith and hope will set a hurting world free and keep us on the sacred pathways to the heartbeat of God. Faith, hope, and love connect us to the holy pulse of God.
[Larretta Rivera-Williams, RSM, is originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she is coordinator of pastoral care at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church. Since entering the Sisters of Mercy in 1982, she has ministered as an elementary, secondary, and divinity school educator. She has written and produced plays as well as directed and choreographed.]