On July 20, 2012, a few minutes into the midnight screening of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, a gunman entered the theater, set off tear gas grenades, and then shot into the crowd, using several firearms and many rounds of ammunition. Twelve people were killed and 58 were injured. The shooter was apprehended in the theater's parking lot.

Tom Sullivan, center, embracing family membersAs people around the world reacted to this tragedy, questions emerged again about gun violence in America (each year more than 30,000 Americans die from guns) and the even deeper question of why bad things happen to good people. It is not the first time, nor will it be the last time, when we find ourselves grappling with the unthinkable.

After 9/11, Maggie Oman Shannon, leader of the S&P e-course on Ways to Pray from Around the World and editor of the collection Prayers for Healing, reflected upon these questions and responded in prayer. She offers a version of that prayer now after the Aurora shootings.

As so we pray this news . . .

When the unthinkable happens, it is understandable that we need time to try to fathom that which cannot be understood. We try to speak about the unspeakable, to use words and expose ourselves to repeated images, in our attempts to make sense out of something that is senseless. At these times when we are so clearly called to remain in balance, to stay grounded as we move into a future that we will co-create, let us begin at the place where we can affect our world: with ourselves.

May we sit in silence.
May we feel what we don’t want to feel.
May we pray, and continue to pray.
May we be with ourselves and our Source to discover what we individually are called to do to help one another in this world, so that we may honor the lives of those who lost theirs and the heart-broken people who mourn for them.
And then may we take those actions we have been guided toward by our Source, remembering every day we continue to be alive how blessed we are to be alive, and to be able to contribute in a loving way to our human family.

— Maggie Oman Shannon



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