Groan! Groan! G-R-O-A-N!

By Helen Guilford

Groan! Groan! G-R-O-A-N!!

But what are we groaning about? Oh! That’s it! We just turned on national news and heard about the most recent mass shooting. Three of the football team killed. Two others critically wounded.

This headline of the day is all too frequent yet we seem to have developed a hard shell about it – whether the shooting involves football players as this one did, grade school children, the elderly. Even churches are no longer safe places.

But where are we in this picture? We may have found our place in the “groaning choir.” Why groaning? It’s not that we are uncaring or calloused in our thinking, but we’ve heard the story so often we can’t seem to work up the high level of concern we once did. Now it is more like “again?” “Where this time?” “What group of people?”

I suspect we are all somewhat guilty of nonchalance when these headlines hit the news again. But this morning! Something was different!

I opened my computer, turned to my email accounts hoping to see news from a friend or cousin. But in the subject column I read, “I’m safe!” The same coverage was there several times sent first by the individual who said “I’m safe” and then thoughtfully passed on to Aunt Helen to keep me in the loop.

The original writer is a nephew who is Associate Dean of something at the University of Virginia. So that is his campus, his home turf – and he knew his parents, brother and sister would be concerned as soon as they heard the headlines. He was also confident the ones he notified would pass on the news of his safety to others who would also be concerned.

This event happened around 10 p.m. and our loved one was not even on campus at the time, so does that relieve us of praying for those families affected by the shooting? Of course not. Yet we don’t give prayer the highest place of importance. There are families, very likely across the nation, who need our prayers as they face today’s traumatic loss and look ahead to the holiday season.

I’ll admit prayer was not my first thought either except to give thanks for my nephew being safe.

But others also need our prayer support today and in the days ahead. Theirs are not moans and groans of hearing the same old news though with different people and settings. No, these people moan and groan from the depths of their very being because they did NOT receive the “I’m safe” message this morning.

The university shut down the campus under “shelter in place” orders and will remain closed for at least another day. Students will be going home for Thanksgiving under the pall of death of friends and classmates. Even if they did not personally know those lost they are still traumatized by the knowledge of this happening on their very own campus.

This should call all of us to our knees in support of people of all ages, in support of masses of people gathered together for whatever occasion. Really, in support of our nation! I often tell God I don’t really know how to pray, but, you know, He doesn’t care how we pray – only that we do pray.

Join with me now – “Dear God and Father, grant Your special blessings on those who ….” (Just fill in the blank as you feel called.)


By Helen Guilford