It’s another post that finds me mourning. This is something I feel I have had to do too much of this year. Family members have died. Friends have died. Today my grief comes in the wake of a violent act that has shaken me to the foundations of my faith. The shooting yesterday at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was a transgression of the highest order. A man walked into a building with the intent to kill all those present because of their beliefs. Obviously, mental illness must play a part in this. I can’t believe that anyone in their right mind could be capable of levelling a shotgun at men, women and children in the sanctuary, sanctuary, of a church.
I know this is supposed to be a blog about food and cooking and culinary school. All those things are big part of my life. But at the center of that is my desire to feed and care for people and at the center of that need is my faith and what I feel called to do in this world. I am a Unitarian Universalist. I have been for more than fourteen years. I started going to a UU church in college and then when I moved home when I was pregnant with Julian, the women’s group at the UU church in Oak Ridge embraced me and my new baby when he arrived. When Julian and I moved to Knoxville we joined Tennessee Valley UU and found a safe place there after the events of September 11, 2001. When we moved to Nashville we, now as a family with Keifel, found a new spiritual home at First UU. My UU family has been there for me through some remarkably rocky times and I have always felt a sense of connection and peace at the heart of this loving, progressive faith. Yesterday, someone did what I could never imagine happening. I am sick at heart and grieving for those who died. Greg McKendry died shielding children and other church members from a shotgun blast. I believe that is an act of heroism. Other church members rushed to tackle the shooter and saved more lives. These men are to be commended as are the men and women who acted quickly and calmly to get others to safety.
In the aftermath of all of this, people of many faiths and denominations have sent messages of love, hope and healing to TVUUC and to Unitarian Universalists as a group. Knowing that has given me hope that all peoples of all faiths can stand together against bigotry and violence. On the flip side of this coin, there have been those who have said that it isn’t a “real” church and, in so many words, those liberal heathens got what they deserved. These words are another act of violence and can only serve to foster more acts violence. Unitarian Universalists believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all people, yes, even the man who came into the church to kill and, yes, even those who would use careless or pointed words to do further damage. My prayers are with the families of those murdered yesterday and those who were injured physically, mentally and spiritually. I am also praying that my church family at TVUUC can return to their sanctuary again very soon and feel safe there once more. I am also praying for the perpetrator of this crime and for those who can’t see past a difference in beliefs to the human being on the receiving end of those words of hate.
If you came looking for a recipe or a foodie witticism, thank you for reading this far. And whatever you might believe, or not believe, please hold these people, this church, this community of faith in your thoughts and prayers.