In 2004, Barbara Poma lost her brother, John, to complications from AIDS. As a way to memorialize his life and create a space of refuge for others in the Orlando gay community, she founded a nightclub and named it Pulse. “The Heartbeat of Orlando” became a sanctuary for those in need of safety and support.
In response to her suffering and loss, Barbara decided to create.
Creation is a surprising response to loss. We might instead anticipate visits from denial, fear, and anger. We might even feel more comfortable remaining in the memories, unable to envision a way forward. While the manifestation of grief looks and feels different for each one of us, Barbara’s decision to create space for lives to flourish as a response to suffering is inspiring.
In 2016, just this past Sunday, 49 lives were taken in a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub. What was created to be a place of safety and acceptance suddenly came to embody the worst parts of humankind: hate, entrapment, denial of life. The whole world now grieves those lives and is grappling with a response to such horror. We reach for soothing words, but they seem elusive, and when found, empty.
In response to this suffering and loss, might we decide to create as well?
The act of creation is no stranger to the Church and its people. We worship a God whom we often name explicitly as Creator, the one who created us and continues to create amongst us. God also gifted us with the ability to create, even to the point of being co-creators of God’s own work in the world.
Being tasked with creating alongside of God is an integral part of the Church’s identity and requires that we learn to develop a strong sense of imagination. Because the fullest and truest embodiments of justice, reconciliation, and peace have yet to unfold - and we continue to face attitudes of exclusion, acts of violence, and ideologies of hate - we must summon up a vision of what can be, what should be, and faithfully walk toward that hope.
Using our creative imaginations may or may not look like founding a nightclub. Our responses will reflect our unique concerns and dreams for change. But we must allow our imaginations to prompt us, move us, and challenge us to ask: What could this world look like instead of what it is now?
A creative imagination not only requires the movement of our minds, but also the movement of our souls and our bodies. If our action stops with thoughts and opinions, our partnership with God in working to renew the world is weakened. Might we envision the use of our voices, our hands, our time, and our collective being as the Church to create flourishing where there is loss?
The spaces where a creative imagination is needed are numerous. We find a need for newness deep within our own selves, simmering in our families and churches, and also on broad display in events such as the tragedy in Orlando. There is no shortage of work to be done, new ideas to be had, fresh perspectives to take, and acts of re-creation to emerge.
How will you create?
The Glenn Staff and Communications Team