We made some doves as a prayerful memorial to honor the lives of all those killed by gun violence in the coming year. I wrote about the plan to continue to make them and to hang them in the church courtyard. Michael mentioned the effort in his sermon on Sunday. The reaction so far has been positive, and people have offered their help and support. I was surprised, grateful, and a bit overwhelmed. So, I neglected to write down names!
If you offered to help, or you would like to, please let Janice or Michael or me know once again. We would love to get a group together of those who would from time to time gather to make a group of doves. Also, if you can bring in translucent gallon milk cartons, these will be helpful. You may also bring in used beads, bells, and aluminum drink cans for making the name tags.
If you have questions or concerns, now is the time to bring them forward.
I guess the only comment that took me off guard was being asked what difference it would make to put a dove in the courtyard each time someone is killed in our city in 2013.
It’s a question I’ve asked myself, and my answer is that the doves by themselves most likely won’t make a difference. Of course I hope the dove display will make a measurable difference, but even deeper than this hope is the necessity of a faithful response to God’s need for love and justice in a hurting world. As a religious community we are called to be faithful whether or not it makes a concrete visible difference, and the prayers represented by our display of the doves is but one way of being faithful.
On New Year’s Day 16 year old Jaymire Rustin was the first person killed by gunfire in Philadelphia in 2013. Members of his community have said that it was a dispute over a cell phone. At a vigil several days later at 57th Street and Baltimore Avenue, Rev. Michael White of Good Samaritan Baptist Church told the crowd:
“You can be out here tonight with Jaymire tatted on your arm and pasted on the back of your jacket, but if your mind-set does not change about how you live … you put yourself into a predicament to fall as a victim to the same kind of crime.”
So the over 300 doves that may fill the courtyard by years end won’t make a bit of difference if we have fully and permanently accommodated ourselves to living within a culture of violence. On the other hand, maybe one person who sees that many doves will have their mind-set changed (as Rev. White put it), their heart broken, or feel their voice being raised. Maybe this witness might help us hear the call to do more, in partnership with others. We may remember more often all the ways that we still need to work in God’s name to change things from the way they are to the way they could be, to co-create a more just and loving world.
The doves might not make any difference. However, they will serve as an ever present witness to grief and a call to the transformative power of healing work.
We welcome your participation.