This morning my mother was in the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist congregation of Knoxville, TN, at worship, as she does most Sundays as a proud member. A typical summer service, the children had been working on presenting a musical, Annie, Jr. Grandparents and proud family and visitors were in attendance.

In the sanctuary, gunman began firing shots and 7 people were injured. One man is dead, who apparently used himself as a shield to protect others. For now, no one yet knows why this happened. I don’t think it will ever make sense, as the logic of violence is always senseless. My mom is alive, and it is such a strange thing to say.

I am grateful for those colleagues who are in the emergency responding team. I am grateful to the Rev. Chris Buice who returns to be with his congregation during such an unbelievable time. I am grateful my mother is alive, and yet feeling my bones etched with the deep sense of violation that a sanctuary has witnessed an act of violence. My throat aches with grief for those whose loved ones rest in a nightmarish ambiguity between life and death, knowing and not knowing.

And then there is the sadness that peoples’ safe places -homes, places of worship, neighborhoods, community centers, schools, bodies, sanctuaries- are violated every day.

My heart is with TVUUC right now. This sort of entry makes me want to change the name of my blog, and yet I know right now that my mother, a licensed psychologist, as well as many other leaders and caregivers, are caring for those who were in the sanctuary this morning. And I will be here, waiting for her call. I will save the rejoicing for another time.

In faith and struggle,
Allison Farnum

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