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Susan Williamson – In Memoriam

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Last night I sat down for my nightly Jeopardy fix, only to find out the game show had been pre-empted by the memorial service for last week’s Virginia Beach Massacre victims. Out of respect for them and their loved ones, I stayed to watch.

An overflow crowd gathered in and around The Rock Church in the Kempsville area of Virginia Beach. I don’t know who organized the service, but it was poignant and moving. There was music of all kinds: symphony music, soloists, duets and choirs. All of it was beautifully done and well-chosen to bring comfort and remembrance.

A wide representation of clergy members spoke and I wondered if they represented the faiths of the slain. There were rabbis, an iman who quoted the Bible, a minister representing the interfaith council, a priest and a representative of the host church.

Several government officials attended with Governor Northrup, the mayor and vice mayor of Virginia Beach and Congresswoman Elaine Luria all making brief remarks.

Everyone who spoke talked about love: the need to love one another, especially now when so many are hurting, the need to bear one another’s burdens, the need to be kind, to embrace others, to tell them they can lean on us.

The crowd gave standing ovations when the mayor and vice-mayor mentioned the professional and volunteer first responders who rushed into harm’s way and the medical personnel who responded so quickly to a scene of mass trauma.

City officials commended their workers, the survivors who are going back to work, despite the trauma and loss of friends and co-workers. The gunman was one of their own. A sense of betrayal, and perhaps guilt for not noticing his inclinations or mental state would have to affect those who worked with him.

None of us knows what the future holds, but we can all show love to all of those around us. The families and friends of the slain and injured are hurting, as are many we come across on a daily basis.

I recently read Richard Rohr’s Yes, And …. In his meditations he mentions that “God” is as much a verb as a noun—and so we, regardless of our own beliefs, can be love (god) to others, and to all of creation.

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