SEEKING PEACE IN THE MIDST OF TRAGEDY: BLACK LIVES DO MATTER

Blog by Associate Marybeth Irvine

Man Caught After Two Slain
— on most mornings,
this headline would have just received a glance from me. I, like I assume many
others, have begun to see it as a normal day in the big city.

But this time
was different for me. I became a news junkie. I listened and read everything
that was written about the violent actions of the gunman who left Vickie Jones
and Maurice Stallard dead — dead just because they were black.

Maurice and
Vickie were going about the normal events of a normal day, stopping at the
neighborhood Kroger — a thing we all do; but they were black. I believe that Maurice
symbolized all the black males that the gunman hates.

The Dominican
Sisters of Peace congregational study of racism and gun violence became real
for me on October 24. – the day that Vickie and Maurice, both grandparents,
were gunned down (Maurice, right in front of his 12-year-old grandson).

But why this
shooting?

This shooting
and death held significance for me because I knew Maurice and his wife,
Charlotte. This was not just the death of another black male; it was the
killing of a black male that I knew. A man that I celebrated Eucharist with in
our common parish; a man I spoke to often and saw even more frequently, as he
served the parish in many roles. This killing killed a relationship and it
mattered to me.

Being a part of
the activities that honored Vickie and Maurice mattered to me; I needed to
participate. I attended the vigil held in the Kroger parking lot. I did not
anticipate the fear arising in me as I stood in the open space. Fear that
became palpable as I watched the armed police officer on the rooftop and
wondered if there could be more violence?

I found comfort
as I observed the mingling of blacks, browns, whites — why does it take a
killing to bring us together?

And there was
disbelief as I went into the store finding myself in aisle 37, not because I
needed to visit the scene of Maurice’s death but because I was picking up cat
food, which happened to be in the next aisle. The disbelief surfaced because
this was a small secluded aisle. The killer had to intentionally follow Maurice.

I also attended
the visitation because I needed to hug Charlotte. It took two hours to wind my
way into the funeral home. What I observed in the parking lot made the wait a
blessing. Standing in line, I observed, again, respect for others, calm,
long-time friends greeting one another and conversation among strangers. Why do
our best manners only get dusted off in the midst of tragedy?

The news
coverage has not ended. Charges have been filed but the most significant, that
of being a hate crime, has to find its way through the justice system. According
to news reports, prior to the shooting, the gunman allegedly tried to enter a
predominantly black church nearby but was unable to get inside. When that
attempt failed, he went to Kroger instead and opened fire in the store.

As the days
pass, I sit with sadness. Maurice’s life mattered to me; his black male life mattered
to me. The relationship I had with him makes all the difference.

I pray with the
words of the Kaddish that we have heard so often recently: May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life for us all…may the
One who creates harmony on high bring peace to us.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

21 responses to “SEEKING PEACE IN THE MIDST OF TRAGEDY: BLACK LIVES DO MATTER

  1. These tragic acts of violence cause me to more strongly examine how I am peace when I see others of color and diversity. Do I make an effort with each unfamiliar face to make eye contact and smile and send them loving, peaceful energy? I hope so, I hope I am more intentional in creating peace and caring especially when people are not expecting each moment to be a love connection. This is how I can make something beautiful from the sorrow of my soul.

  2. Thank you, Mary Beth, for sharing your experience of the difference it makes when someone takes the opportunity/time to meet, speak, and get to personally befriend someone different than oneself. It is only then “that you risk crying if you dare to love”.

  3. Marybeth,
    I appreciated your lived experience and how this MAN was your friend and touched your heart another HUMAN BEING that God Created ended. WHY? When will we ever learn.
    Thank you.

  4. Thanks to all. Prayers for both Vickie and Maurice and their families are surely appreciated. But, I wonder if their deaths are not a call to each of us to explore what lives matter to us. Where do we nurture relationships that matter with those who don’t look like us, speak like us, dress like us, believe like us?

  5. Marybeth, thank you for your sharing. Maurice and Charlotte were in my brother’s parish, too. It pains me for the two of them and for Vickie and for my hometown of Louisville that this kind of racial hatred is still happening. It’s when we can see the face of others, when they become real human beings to us that we begin to stand up for what is right. Thanks.

  6. Marybeth, I’m sorry for the loss of your friend! I’m sorry that there is still bigotry in this country. Will keep you & your friends family in my prayers

  7. amen, we need to end the cycle of violence and hate. We are all made in the image of God. Let love live in our hearts and peace will prevail.
    Thank you for share your heart. Prayers for the souls of Vickie and Maurice, and comfort and peace for their family and friends. God bless!
    Denise

  8. Mary Beth I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. I can’t imagine what you are feeling but I do want to stand with you in your grief. And I pray with Colette peace Lord please give us peace.

  9. Thanks, Marybeth, for sharing this with us. I grieve with you
    and all who have recently suffered from gun violence.

  10. Dear Marybeth,
    Your story made my heart ache. I will certainly pray for the souls of Vickie and Maurice. Your story serves as a reminder that we must all continue to fight racism.

  11. Marybeth,
    Your story makes my heart ache. I will certainly pray for the souls of Vickie and Maurice. This letter serves as a reminder that we need to continue our efforts to end racism. We can not stop working to end these senseless deaths.

  12. Thanks Marybeth for sharing your loss with me/us. I am so sorry and find your reflection so poignant. Blessings on you, Maurice, Charlotte, Vickie and all involved. Lots of love, Helen

  13. Marybeth, your message touched my heart. I am so sorry life for our black people have become a walking target. What is wrong with our society? I feel with you and I know God hears the prayers of those who are hurting and suffering loss.

  14. Oh, Marybeth, Thank you. Thank you so much. It hurts so but it also helps when we know someone personally who’s been harmed/killed. I pray that all can internalize that Black Lives Matter.

  15. Thank you, Marybeth, for sharing your experience and the relationship you had w/the victims. Your reflection helps us all to go deeper into our “everyday” lives and the reality of our world each day.

  16. Marybeth,
    Thank you so much for sharing your journey through this difficult time. I find myself continually praying for the Creator to bring peace to us, especially those who mourn. Blessings to you!

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