Last month, in a fit of despair, I emailed my minister and some other leaders at our church and said LET’S DO SOMETHING! Let’s host a vigil! Let’s bring together groups of people to stand in solidarity with each other. Let’s build a community of hope and love. Let’s do something!

And so we did.

Of course, immediately after I suggested it, I worried that it might be a dramatic idea. I worried whether people would be able to come to a mid-week event. I worried about asking leaders from other faith groups to join us, knowing that it meant time away from their own families and congregations.

But from the very start, every response to the idea was a YES! and LOVE THIS! There were 8 speakers from a diverse group of faiths and cultures who gave of their time to be there. There were hundreds — yes, HUNDREDS — of attendees from all ethnicities, cultures, and walks of life. People from our church brought mountains and mountains of food. There were more smiles, laughter, conversation, and hugs than I can count.

Pictures really don’t do it justice; this is a kind of love and togetherness that you feel. But let me try to share a little bit of that feeling with you…

To open the event I shared these words:

“We hail from different cities, different backgrounds, different faiths. We work at different jobs, eat different kinds of meals, pray to different gods. And yet were are all here, now, together, because of a shared commonality – a deep love of humanity. We understand that we’re all in this together, and that when we gather together, when we act together, when we hope and love together, we are indeed stronger. We’ve come here tonight for different reasons, with different burdens to bear, different things that weight heavy on our hearts, but amidst our unique (or common) struggles and challenges, we know that when fear, anger, and hate threatens to tear us apart, we will stitch ourselves together with community, compassion, and love.

One of our traditions here at Countryside Church is to conclude each service by ‘sharing the light’ with each other. It is a simple way of acknowledging that we each have a light within us and that when we share it with others and see it is others, we brighten even the darkest of nights. Your presence here tonight is indeed brightening this dark night. This gathering here, this coming together of people, is shining a light in the darkness of these uncertain times.

Friends, the world needs your light, and we need each other right now. The future is uncertain, always; the journey can be treacherous, that isn’t new; and the path can feel dark sometimes – but with our flickering flames of compassion and love, together, we will light the way. For as Ram Dass said, ‘we’re all just walking each other home.'”

Well. Let me tell you, the light in the place last night was so bright it was damn near blinding. And it was BEAUTIFUL. These might feel like dark times, but the light — OUR LIGHT — is stronger.

Peace and love, my friends. Peace and love.


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