Tree of Life: Sorrow, Horror & Prayer(s)

“All that is left to us is our being horrified at the loss of our sense of horror.” Rabbi Abraham Heschel

My heart and prayers are with the victims and families of the mass shooting that took place on Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. Hearing of such reckless hate that killed mainly elderly members of the congregation, I could not help but think of my precious parents and how it would feel if they had died in such a manner.

Senseless. Horrifying. Because this act of hatred is horrifying.

These last years we Americans have faced multiple mass shootings: 20 children and 6 teachers killed @ Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut; 17 students and teachers @ Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida; 32 college students at Virginia Tech; the killing of 9 African Americans @ Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, SC; 49 members of the LBGTQ community gunned down @ the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL; 58 killed in Las Vegas, 26 killed in Sutherland Springs, TX  — and unfortunately the list goes on.

Such deaths may dull our sense of what constitutes horror – is it the number killed, or the manner in which they are killed?

But that’s the point of Rabbi Heschel’s teaching: each and every act of violence should be a wake up call to the horror of hate.

Rabbi Heschel (1907-1972) knew all about hate as one of the few members of his family to survive the Holocaust, yet he did all he could to build bridges of understanding and prayer. As an activist during the Civil Rights era he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.

“When I marched in Selma, my feet were praying.” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

My challenge to friends and readers of this blog here and all around the world: do not let acts of senseless violence dull the reality of hate’s horror. Instead, let our feet pray with acts of kindness, courage, and love.

Jefferson National Forest, VA

On Friday my sister Shere & I zoomed 9 hours to Ohio for a short visit with our brother Dean and his wife, Lynn. In the aftermath of what happened in Pittsburgh, I took this picture on the return trip in the mountains of Virginia (just over the West Virginia state line.)

May we all plants seeds of love wherever we are so they may grow into trees of peace and understanding – Trees of Life and prayers that unite us.

grace, peace & prayers


“Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.

Prayer begins where our power ends.”  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

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13 Responses to Tree of Life: Sorrow, Horror & Prayer(s)

  1. It saddens my heart. Such a sad news of yet another mass shooting. May their gentle soul Rest In Peace. Beautiful “LOVE” picture…ties perfectly with your overall message.

    • Virginia says:

      With so much sadness in our whacked out world, lots more Love (with a capital ‘L’) is needed. Thank you for your encouragement, Cyn. Although LOVE symbols are all over Virginia (the state) I had never seen one in the woods, so traipsed a bit up a hill to get this picture. Blessings -🍂 🌷🙏🌷🍁

  2. elvagreen123 says:

    I seem to remember when I was little we were not even supposed to use the word “hate”. I’m sure it was the adults who taught us that. I don’t know what happened. Hate seems to have overridden the desire to love. Love thy neighbor as thyself. That has always stuck with me since childhood from church teachings. It is sad to see people destroying others. We must continue to spread Love with those we meet on a daily basis. I have seen hate turn to love so I know it can happen. How amazing for you to find that LOVE sign! Peace and Love to you and yours.

    • Virginia says:

      Amen, Elva – I totally agree with you! I have seen the results of hate in conflict zones (& in the inhumanity of mass graves.) It’s just so depressing that in our country after so many people worked so hard (& gave their lives) for us to live in peace, there’s still so much hate. Like you, I have seen love transform hate – but most often with a price of great sacrifice. Here’s to spreading love !!!!!! Peace & love back to you, Elva! 💕🌷💕

  3. arlene says:

    Where is this world coming to? It’s full of hate 😦

    • Virginia says:

      So much hate all over our whacked out world, Arlene, but the love of God is greater (& deeper) than the abyss of hate. That’s my hope (& prayer) – for people of peace to diffuse hate with encounters of Love that beholds everyone as precious in God’s sight. 💕🌎💕🌍💕🌏💕

  4. Ncyhth says:

    Sadly it’s not just an American phenomena, Virginia. It seems to be worldwide. Was there coverage in the US of the school shooting in Kerch in the Crimea? (Part of Ukraine currently occupied by Russia) This was just two weeks ago! A college student shot and killed 21 and wounded 35 at his technical college.

    • Virginia says:

      Egads, Nancy – no, I didn’t hear about that shooting in the Crimea. So much suffering all over our whacked out world! But just think, Nancy, each life Heart for Orphans touches is changing potential narratives of despair to hope – by God’s grace (& all your hard work!!) Blessings & hugs of hope!💕 🌏🤗🌏💕

  5. Tim says:

    “All that is left to us is our being horrified at the loss of our sense of horror.” This quote…that’s what it’s starting to feel like, V. So many of us are getting numb to this, myself included, I’m ashamed to admit. I think part of it comes from a feeling of helplessness. Anyway, I’m glad you’re keeping the issues of compassion and revulsion toward violence front and center.

    • Virginia says:

      You and me, both, Tim! That’s why we have to keep our compassion muscles in working order — so the senseless violence will continue to horrify us into doing our love bits every which way we can. Blessings — VA

  6. My Carmel says:

    Amen! ❤ United in prayer!

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