Waiting to Hear Their Voices in Orlando by Betty Mason Arthurs
Once again we are a nation in mourning. We mourn over the horrific mass shooting and killing of the innocent Americans enjoying a night out at an Orlando nightclub.
We weep with the fathers and mothers who long to hug their children once more, but their children are dead. We tremble with outrage that one violent man’s hatred could rain down terror and express itself in killing so many people. We cry with the grandparents who have lost their beloved grandchildren in the blink of an eye. Our hearts go out to those who sit in anguish by the hospital bedsides of the injured and hope for good news. Aunts and uncles, friends, sisters and brothers all join in prayer for healing of hearts, minds and bodies…and we join with them from near and far around the world. We pray for the medical personel who used their skills to save lives and also held the hands of the injured who didn’t make it. We thank the police who rushed to rescue those in danger.
My prayers and thoughts were a chaotic mess over this tragedy and out of the blue came the song from the 1960s by Paul Simon, “The Sound of Silence.” Perhaps this title came to my mind after people at the killing zone reported the cell phones ringing and ringing from inside the nightclub. I visualized the phones beside the lifeless bodies and the mortally wounded, calls from loved ones longing to hear the voices, to know if they were alive. But there was only the sound of silence.
One phrase from The Sound of Silence that the duo Simon and Garfunkel sang is:
“Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk to you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping…”
This link will lead you to them singing this touching song.
Yes, this is a time of darkness and I can imagine a mother listening to her son’s message on his cell phone, “Hi, this is Mike, leave me a message,” then there’s the beep and the silence. Again and again she calls and the voice she longs to hear never answers; she will never hear his voice again.
Perhaps you’ve lost a parent and long to chat with them. I imagine the young mother and father whose toddler drowned in a pool last week in Phoenix, listening for her sweet giggles. All they hear is the silence. And they watch the videos of their precious girl again and again to bridge the silence.
When my husband and I lost our first-born son in 1968 when he was only six weeks old, we no longer heard his hungry cries from our nursery. We reeled from the shock of his death and the silence of our home. We wept and prayed in one another’s arms many nights. God gave us hope in ways only He can. In one year we gave birth to a precious girl and once again our home was filled with newborn cries. In a few years we had another son…we traded sorrow for miraculous joy. Now they are grown and have given us seven grandchildren.
The Bible says in John chapter three, verse 16 that God so loved the world that he gave…what did he give? He gave his only son Jesus that we might have hope and everlasting life. Verse 17 says “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
God’s love is beyond human comprehension and to me that means he cares deeply about what happened in Orlando. Debate all you want about gun ownership, deranged terrorists, hate-filled humans who set out to destroy their neighbors, but why become heartless men and women? Can we say with Saint Francis, “where there is hatred let me sow love?”
Another 1970s song from Simon and Garfunkel is “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Every time I hear it, I shed tears. The words ring true today as never before:
“Oh, when darkness comes and pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down.”
This link will lead you to a video of them singing this beautiful, comforting song in 2012.
I join with millions around the world who pray for the bereaved, for those who are in a weeping place, an endless dark place. It may take years but, I pray they will reach a time where they can cherish the memories of good within the sound of silence and be comforted.