Tomas looked up from the sermon he laid upon the pulpit. He smoothed out the crinkles in the pages again. He splayed his hand over the words making up the title. His throat constricted as two more filed in and made their way up the aisle until they found seats in the hard wooden pews filling the converted church.
Tavia’s weak smile warmed his heart. Two pews back Mickey and Night Hawk sat keeping the children occupied. Tongson’s brief nod as Tomas’s eyes met his communicated more than Tomas could ever say aloud. Human and shifter alike dab their eyes. Many took the packets of tissue offered as they entered the sanctuary.
Tomas cleared his throat catching the attention of the packed room. He nodded to the gray haired woman sitting at the battered piano. She played the opening chords of Amazing Grace. A quartet of men and women rose on the left side of room. Their voices blended as each sang a line of lyrics before all four sang in unison. Another familiar song filled the room as two shifters sang a ballad about illicit love and broken hearts. As they sat, Tomas spoke.
“Friends, neighbors, and loved ones, today’s tragedy brings home once again why we must unite as a community. One person took too many lives, hurt innocent beings, and lost touch with himself. Others seek to harm and hurt anyone who is different. Some shrink away in fear. Some use words and actions to justify the malice they do.”
Tomas paused. Several heads nodded and whispered echoed off the walls. Licking his lips, he continued.
“Our fellow shifters in Talbot’s Peak face life and death daily from human and shifters. Humans face the same from humans and shifters as well. They’ve chosen to unite and live. To embrace their differences and work together to create a haven and home for those that want to live in peace, love, and a faith in their fellow citizens’ innate goodness and sincerity.”
More nods and soft yeses resounded. Tomas scanned the crowded room. Two large men stood near the exit doors. Their arms hung at their sides. Moments earlier, they were tight against their chests. Tomas inhaled deeply. His eyes meet Mickey’s. She mouthed I love you, raised her and Night Hawk’s joined hands, and blew a kiss toward Tomas.
Tongson sat with his arm around Tavia. His wide smile and wink erased any lingering angst Tomas felt. Tavia’s head bob gave him the fuel he needed to go on.
“There are many quotes on faith, peace, and love. Many of us here are pagan, a natural religion. Others are of varying faiths. For me, I have three that guide me daily. I’d like to share these with you. First comes from the Christian Bible: Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love. The next quote I stumbled upon surfing the internet looking for inspiration for tonight’s topic. I found one that hit home by a person named Adlin Sinclair a British executive and humanitarian. He said, and I quote, ‘Without faith, hope and trust, there is no promise for the future, and without a promising future, life has no direction, no meaning and no justification.’ The last is from Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher: Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
Tomas looked up from the paper in front of him. He felt all eyes watched him intently. It was though the community breathed as one spirit, one entity, with them waiting for his next utterance. Tomas swallowed hard and followed where his heart led him.
“I sense a deep love and caring within us. Those in Colorado are hurting. We’ll do what we can for them through our connections with Talbot’s Peak. I know I want to tell each of you I love you and your love gives me the courage to go on despite this awful tragedy. Our faith in each other unites us and brings us together to work in peace and harmony for the greater good of all. Over the next days, weeks, and months as those touched by this begin to heal or let out their grief and hurt, let’s remember we’re in this together. No one stands alone.”
Tomas gathered up his papers. He stepped down from the pulpit. One person stood, clapping. Another joined and another. Smiles, greeted him as he made his way down the aisle. When he reached the door, the largest of the guards leaned down. “The donation area is packed with boxes and items offered by everyone in attendance. The cash jar is stuffed to the brim. We found another and it is overflowing as well.”
Tomas clenched the paper in his hands. A tear threatened to streak down his check. A soft hand wiped it away. He turned. Tavia and Tongson stood next to him offering their hands. He moved toward them knowing he’d come home to where he belonged and acceptance was the norm, not the abnormal.
My heart goes out to the people of Aurora, CO. Having gone through the last Los Angeles Riots, I can relate to the feelings everyone is going through. My post this week is my attempt to make sense of the world around me and the horror that sometimes fills our lives. Hug your loved ones, friends, and extended family by blood or choice. Tell them you love them and how much they mean to you. It's important. Take time to enjoy each other and have hope that a brighter tomorrow is out there for all of us.