“Darkness can come in many forms, sometimes fast, sometimes creeping slowly. Ours came at warp speed and was all-encompassing when our son, Matthew, was brutally murdered 22 years ago simply for being gay.
One minute we were a family of four, the next, we were three. We were experiencing so many emotions – anger, confusion, grief and a sense of emptiness — all at once.
As time passes, light finds a way, in many ways, sometimes fast, sometimes creeping slowly. Our light was family and friends, both known and unknown. We had found a new community who loved without judgement and welcomed us with open arms.
Darkness, however, is never far away. Darkness demands your attention, but after seeing the light you can leave the darkness where it is and not embrace it.
Sadness is present every day. It is an ache, an emptiness, a loss of what you thought your life would be. Maybe sadness is a recovery from darkness; that recovery may well last the rest of your days. However, you can be sad and still function. Functioning is surviving your darkness and your sadness. Functioning is finding a purpose to still be present.
The next step is the joy you find from serving your purpose, from helping others in a way that speaks to your heart. Everyone is going through their own particular pain. You may not see it—they may not want to talk about it but it is there. Joy is especially welcome when sadness has been your overriding emotion.
Even joy can be interrupted by an unexpected memory – a scent, a song, even a shadow can awaken the sadness. But now you know you can survive it. You can even embrace the memories, feel the sadness and return to joy.”
Gay rights activist and mother of Matthew Shepard, who was interred at the Cathedral in 2018, 20 years after his murder that galvanized the gay rights movement
The prayer of St. Francis:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The Prayer of St. Francis describes a world—and a state of being—that is often the one we strive for but rarely see. Where there is hatred, we instead find love; where there is injury, pardon. It describes an active faith, one that is shaped and reshaped and constantly striving toward perfection. – The St. Francis Project