I stood in St. Ann’s Square, Manchester, just a few days after the tragic events of May 22nd, gazing across the sea of flowers, vibrant in the morning sunshine. The crowd quietly looked on as balloons bobbed and candles flickered. Moving messages of sorrow and solidarity had been chalked on the paving stones, and satellite vans were dotted along the street, waiting to send the latest ‘moving’ pictures around the world.
What can one say after the tragic bombing at the Manchester Arena already over a week ago? Ariana Grande was right when she tweeted, “I don’t have words.” Nothing can bring back the loss suffered by those who have been injured and bereaved. Our hearts go out to each one; for them life will never be the same again.
When I was six my father would occasionally take me to work with him on a Saturday morning. Before going home we would stop at the sweetshop next door to his offices. That sweetshop was about 35 yards from where the sea of flowers lies today. Neither I, nor my father, could have comprehended the tragic event that would carpet the square with flowers so many years later.
Despite her initial tweet, later that week Ariana Grande found the words to express her sorrow and her thoughts for the future:
“My heart, prayers and deepest condolences are with the victims of the Manchester Attack and their loved ones.
There is nothing I or anyone can do to take away the pain you are feeling or to make this better. However, I extend my hand and heart and everything I can possibly give to you and yours, should you want or need my help in any way.
The only thing we can do now is choose how we let this affect us and how we live our lives from here on out. …
Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before. …
We will continue in honor of the ones we lost, their loved ones, my fans and all affected by this tragedy.
They will be on my mind and in my heart everyday and I will think of them with everything I do for the rest of my life.” @ArianaGrande May 26
As Ariana tweeted, “the only thing we can do now is choose how we let this affect us and how we live our lives from here on out.” In response to the bombing, the people of Manchester have taken the Oasis song, “Don’t Look Back in Anger” as their theme song. Yes, we should be deeply moved by such a tragic event, but the people are right, anger will accomplish nothing. As wise King Solomon once wrote:
“A gentle answer turns anger away. …”
Proverbs 15:1 (NIRV)
It’s at times like this we can look to our Creator for inspiration; when we take on the gentle but strong spirit of Jesus, who said to His followers:
“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.”
John 13:34-35 (NCV)
I wonder how different Monday 22nd would have been if one more person in this world had understood the truth of those words?