Back in the day, the expression was something like “prove you’re a man by having sons.” Today it has been somewhat distorted and now reads “prove you’re a man by having guns.” Saturday night someone was shot in the head and died on a street corner about two blocks over from the Peace Center. Information from news sources was sketchy with nothing other than the time and location and the fact that the victim was a man.
On Sunday morning, I took a walk to the corner just to say a prayer. Most folks I met were Sunday subdued, not scared subdued. I learned that no one knew the victim, and most had seen nothing. I spoke with the woman who had made the 911 call to tell the police there was a body on the sidewalk, but she knew nothing else.
Turns out those involved were not from the neighborhood or even Orleans parish, so no one was sure what had precipitated the shooting. Why they came to our neighborhood was unclear; people here were talking in quiet circles and hoping for the best. Most of them just seemed resigned to the idea that violence is part of life, no matter where one lives.
I realized the importance of the ministry of presence in a way I had not before this day. Just to say, “I am going to say a prayer” helps people to take a breath and think about peace before they jump into vengeance. Holding someone’s hand or asking a question that allows them to tell you their story are simple things that are much needed.
In your world, where have there been opportunities to be present in simple ways? Did you miss any? Don’t worry, there will be lots more.