In the wake of trying to understand the random and senseless violence of the Clackamas Town Center shooting, we were once again faced with unspeakable tragedy and the shocking news of yet another shooting.

It can be difficult to know how to respond or what to think in times like these. How do we claim that “God is good” in the face of such horror?

Whether it takes place at a mall in our own backyard or at a school in Connecticut, whether the number of victims is three or 27, it is all sad and unspeakable. The truth is some incidents evoke deeper emotions than others but all violence remains a call to prayer, empathy and compassion. So with our hearts wide open, tender and raw, let us pour out love to the families, children and individuals involved and let us give thanks for the first responders for their courage and service to those in need. Let us send peace to those struggling for answers even as we struggle for our own.

Let us also be reminded in this, the darkest time of year, the return of light is emanated. This return of light is not merely an external event, but is most profoundly an internal awakening. Whenever we claim our spiritual truth, we simultaneously invite all that is unlike the truth to come to the surface to be reconciled. And regardless of appearances that seem to tell us otherwise, darkness can never be a thing in and of itself. It is rather the absence of light.

Just as one small candle can illuminate a dark room, you and I have the profound opportunity and responsibility to awaken our hearts, illumine our minds and see things as they really are, and through our expressions of love, compassion and empathy, serve as a small candle in someone else’s dark night.

In the days that unfold before us, as a nation seeks healing and families cope with profound loss, be vigilant in remembering we are one human family, one diverse expression of God, seeking to know itself through you and me. In this most challenging time, may we know God more fully through the love that we share and the courage and strength that we discover in each other.

“Make of yourself a light” — The Buddha

Rev. David F. Alexander is the senior minister and spiritual leader at New Thought Center for Spiritual Living in Lake Oswego.

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