Finding Hope Amid the Sorrow and Loss

Since Saturday, August 3rd, 2019, I’ve been struggling. I’ve begun to lose all hope in humanity. A man, who I will not dignify by using his name, came to our city, to El Paso, and murdered twenty-two people, and injured over two dozen more.

El Paso has been a very safe city for long time. Then, one person with ill intent, changed that.

I was born in El Paso, entered the world at Hotel Dieu back in 1970. Born and raised here. No matter what part of town I’ve been in – the Segundo Barrio, the Devils Triangle, anywhere really – I’ve felt safe. I’ve never worried for my safety.

Why should I? El Paso is a town of respect, love, caring, compassion, kindness. Now, since August 3rd, we are in pain, and I’m looking for hope.

I don’t have the answers on reigniting hope, or even where to find hope for myself. However, I will share with you what others have said. Maybe, just maybe, we can find hope together.

“You know, El Paso is a resilient city,” says Representative Cesar Blanco. “You know, we are, I think today’s images, of this memorial demonstrates how important and how El Paso is united.”

Rep. Blanco is right. Just standing there, at the memorial site, watching strangers come together speaks volumes of how united we are. In unity there is strength, and for many, the seeds of hope.

“I think just the unity and the love that our community has for one another is going to get us through this tragedy. So, I think that’s the hope in this,” says Rep. Blanco.

Miguel Munoz, director of the music ministry at Ysleta Lutheran Mission Human Care spoke of faith.

“The best way to find hope is by reading the Bible,” says Miguel. “The Bible specifically tells us that in Jesus Christ, we do find the hope in Him. If there’s any problem, any situation that’s going on in your life, He does tell you, focus on me and I will help you. He doesn’t say that I will get rid of it: I will help you get through it.”

I made a point of speaking to Miguel because the motto, one of the guiding principals for YLM is Changing Lives Through Simple Acts of Kindness.

At YLM Rev. Karl Heimer, Rev. Stephen Heimer, and Miguel have always said that something as simple as a smile or saying “hello” can be a simple act of kindness that could change someone’s life.

I asked Miguel how we could apply the YLM motto to what we have suffered as a community.

“Well, by being more loving, just like Jesus is,” says Miguel. “Helping them understand that they are not alone, that they’re not the only ones that feel that way, that other people feel the same way too. And that all we have to do is just stick together as a nation.”

“Just do it,” says Ben Carnevale of Sun City Live Streams. “Every day you do what you have to do. You have to grocery shop; you have no choice but to do it. It’s like jumping into a swimming pool, some people take their time to get used to the water, some people just jump right in.”

“It’s hard,” says Ann Hernandez. “When things like this happen, I think it’s only natural to ask why. Our lives as we know it has completely changed. I know I’m extremely anxious and going anywhere in public is hard for me. Especially with my son. But we must move forward. God gives us the strength to go on. Though our faith and hope might falter, His never does.”

“I have been adopted by this amazing city, by it’s people, and become part of the dynamic that is El Paso,” says Amin Abdul Razzaq. “Here, in this amazing city, no one belittles me for being Muslim, or a journalist. No one makes fun of me because of my accent. There is a spirit of acceptance here, a spirit of openness and togetherness that is a blessing from God to El Paso. That is a place to found hope: the blessing that is El Paso.”

Amin is right. In El Paso there is openness, togetherness, and those are blessings indeed.

“Look at what El Paso is doing! That is hope!” says Cyndi Rains “Blood donors, food donors, funeral donors, childcare donors, painters, t-shirt makers, people! That’s hope! We are alive and will go forward! NO ONE WILL BREAK EL PASO!”

I may not be able to find hope as quickly as some. I lost a very close family friend at the hands of this monster, this terrorist. I can’t yet bring myself to enter large buildings, much less a Walmart. For the moment, crowds petrify me once again. But each of the people I have spoken to today have begun to find hope and were eager to share that with me.

Over the coming weeks and months, you and I will find hope and strength together and we’ll be stronger for it.

I wanted to leave the closing thought in this piece to Matt Gonzalez of The Boy Who Had 7 Talks Comic Books. For me, Matt, like Miguel Munoz, is one of the people I turn to when I need real answers.

“The pain that we feel when we experience loss is so terrible because the joy that we experienced when we were together was so wonderful,” says Matt Gonzalez. “To have that violently ripped away from us makes us stop and think about life and all its facets. I think we can find hope in the fact that we will see our loved ones again. And because we will see them again that hope must drive us to make the world a better place in their memory. The relationships we still have must be full of more compassion. More love. More time spent together. Because there are other precious relationships that need us. And since tomorrow is never promised we must live today with all our hearts. We must be good so the mark we leave behind benefits the world.”

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