Words cannot adequately express my horror and sadness over the tragedy that occurred in Orlando early Sunday morning, June 12th. Too many wonderful and worthy people lost their lives because of madness and ideology. Even though we may not have known any of the victims, they were our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones. The tragedy of Orlando is the shared tragedy of our nation.
On Monday evening we gathered in our sanctuary simply to be with each other, to find comfort in each other’s arms and to seek answers to why mass killings take place. We gathered to share our outrage over the ease with which these events occur. And we gathered to find meaning and hope in the discussions about guns, tolerance, and religious pluralism that follow events like this.
For now, we grieve the loss of 49 beautiful people. We grieve the loss of an idea of a welcoming America, an America that offers the freedom for each of us to be whom we must be, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersexed, straight, or something else. And we grieve the loss of an ideal America that offers the freedom for each of us to believe what we must, whether Jew, Christian, Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, or something else.
I believe we are made in the image of the divine, we all hold a spark of the divine, of God, of the Source of Love within, and therefore we are good and blessed. Our UU First Principle affirms the worth and dignity of all persons, and therefore we are guided to love one another, not hate. Let our response to this tragedy be love.
I pray that the families of the Orlando victims find comfort in knowing our nation mourns with you, just as we celebrated with you a year ago when marriage equality was achieved. And in addition to our prayers, I know our actions will speak volumes as we work to prevent tragedies like this from occurring again.
Go in love and peace, Rev. Alison W. Eskildsen