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At Guideposts we’re used to praying for people who face danger and deal with tragedy all over the world. Today the tragedy was very close to home.
This morning, as the news has reported, two people were killed and eight wounded in front of the Empire State Building. Our New York editorial offices are half a block away and colleagues who were here heard the horrible sound of gunfire and could see some of the victims from our windows.
As soon as we could we gathered in the conference room, first to take inventory of who was here. Had all been accounted for? Was everyone on our staff safe? We were relieved to know that our colleagues were all right. Then people spoke of where they were when it happened: the pop-pop-pop sound, the sirens, an image of a man standing, then collapsing in the street. One colleague found herself in a crowd that was running away from Fifth Avenue. “I didn’t know why they were running, but I did the natural thing. I joined them.”
After that we prayed. We prayed for the victims, we prayed for their loved ones, we prayed for our own safety and our fears. As I closed my eyes, I remembered the last time we did something like this in our offices, after 9/11. Part of me asked, “Why the violence? Why the killing?” But this seems the only right way of responding: to gather with those we care about and pray.
Thank you for your prayers. We are a little rattled here, sad for those who have suffered any loss but strong in our faith. As I was crossing Fifth Avenue, minutes after the shooting, I fingered a slip of paper in my pocket with the words of Psalm 92. One verse flew through my mind:
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
And shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon.
May it be so.