Sunlight shone down heavy today. The sky was so brilliant here that it hurt to take it in. The Paper-Wasps circled around my head harmlessly. I knew they had the ability to sting, but somehow the day just felt calm. Safety is nothing more than an illusion.
I awoke this morning to the screaming parade of emergency vehicles kicking up dust down the dirt road past the mission. The wail of the sirens seemed endless... it seemed another tragedy had taken this place.
Last week a pillar of the tribe was lost and a community was shaken with news of the fifth sudden death in only a few short weeks. His seemed sudden, although many knew of his heart condition, complications brought on by years of choices and behaviors. Still though... death is too sudden, too sharp.
I looked out the door through the sunlight and saw children playing. I walked out and began a conversation with a native man, tattoos on his face, standing between his two youngest children, alternately pushing each of their swings as they rose and fell. I asked him, "Do you know of a man with the last name of 'Yellow Bear' that died last week?"
He did... and he told me that his death felt too oppressive to even breathe. He asked me, "Why does the reaper come for us here?" He shared that he doesn't want to believe in God anymore... he is angry at God. His own brother was shot and killed... and now all these deaths just seem overpowering.
This is what it must feel like to drown.
He asked, "Did you hear all the sirens this morning?" He told me that a man had burned alive in his trailer. It was thought to be a homicide. While the young man was burning, his family tried to reach him, but were overpowered by the flames and forced to dive out a window. He was lost.
Six deaths, one right after the other with barely time to bury the dead. This small town can be fully seen from the mission here, nestled tightly on a hilltop. How can so much death descend on such a bright place?
This evening as the sun fell below the horizon of Allen, the little town here... I dropped to my knees on the hard earth. I felt myself pulled back through the pain of the day, the darkness of the past month here, and farther into the blood that stained the earth when Native American women and children were slaughtered in the hills.
This land has known too much sorrow. I prayed for atonement. I prayed for mercy. I prayed for grace to again find this place. I prayed for hope to replace doubt. I prayed for a bold faith to drive out fear.
I prayed that all those things take root in my own soul. I prayed for the father I spoke with as he swung his young children. I prayed for the women and men who live on the hilltop awaiting the next death.
As I stood, looking at the sun shadowing my back, I realized that this darkness grips our nation and our world. Are we not all living with a sense of fear at this time. Some belief that things are getting worse, or that disaster is around the corner?
I reject that notion. I breathe deep as I search the horizon. Sunlight shines down heavy today and that light is from my Father. He made all this and He holds me even now. Our fears are nothing more than Paper-Wasps that we can walk through. Death is nothing more than an illusion.
There is a great victory that has taken place, and there is an endless cry in heaven of, "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God almighty. Who was, who is, and who is to come." And so as the sun has fallen over the horizon in this place, I pull the covers tight in the darkness knowing that there is a promise of a Risen Son.
I pray for more chances to talk with my new friend tomorrow. We parted today with an agreement that we just want a better world for our children. We want to be better men so that they can have a chance.
We must chose to see the sunlight, even when it shines down heavy.