Light on a dark day; Grace Episcopal Church opens doors for those in pain

NEW BEDFORD — Outside the city pulsated, with sirens wailing and vehicles rumbling, life racing by as usual.

Inside, there was only silence, the flickering of candlelight and a few tears.

About 50 people gathered Monday night at Grace Episcopal Church to share thoughts, recite poetry and read prayers.

But perhaps the most powerful moment came when silence filled the church, as those attending gathered in a circle of light to pray for peace, hope and answers in the wake of the shootings early Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

“This isn’t about Grace Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church or even the Christian Church,’’ Rev, Chris Morck, the church rector, told the group. “This is for us.’’

Morck said he shared the “deep belief that New Bedford can be, and in some ways already is, a shining light in what can seem like a lot of dark and polarization.’’

He said that he and Rev. Andrea Wyatt, assistant priest at the church, decided to host the ceremony after hearing of the shooting.

“It’s important that we come together,’’ he said.

He said that, in a “horrible’’ way, news of shootings no longer shock him as they once did. “It didn’t really hit me as it did just a few years ago,’’ he said, because the news has become so frequent.

“Our society is increasingly permeated by violence,’’ Morck said. Some of America’s leadership, he said, encourages citizens “to engage in hate.’’

The latest target of hate, he said, was our “brothers and sisters in the LGBT family,’’ he said. The shooting “seemed to intentionally target a group that has been historically targeted and marginalized.’’

He described the event and its aftermath as “an open wound.’’

Those attending were invited to share stories. A gay man talked about how his life changed when he accepted his truth. A mother shared the pain of losing a son to AIDS and her fears for society’s reaction to her surviving son, who transitioned from female.

Teenagers shared their confusion about an unsteady world, with one young woman expressing fear that someone could enter the church and attack those gathering as they longed for peace.

Wyatt described a “sense of outrage’’ as “one of the many swirling emotions we are facing right now.’’

Grief, anger and despair are also part of the emotional equation, she said.

“How do we get up every morning and do the work we do?’’ she said. “How do we do that in a climate of incessant, escalating violence?’’

She quoted a line of a poem by writer Adrienne Rich. “My heart is moved by all I cannot save,’’ the poem reads.

This article originally appeared in the Standard Times on June 16, 2016 – see original article here