The attacks in London took place on Saturday night when the University Chaplaincy was out with walkers and campers, for the Sanctuary Walk for Refugees. On Sunday morning, Rev Alison Newell asked that the first 20 minutes be walked in silence, to focus minds, hearts and prayers on those caught up in the London attacks. The diverse group of walkers, which included families from Syria newly arrived in Edinburgh, were camping over night at St Bridget's Kirk in Dalgety Bay, a place associated with welcome and safety.
When tragedy strikes or acts of terror, together we will walk, keeping faith with one another. With the seemingly random nature of such attacks at present, we can feel different as we go about or daily lives, because we don’t know what might happen next or by whose hands. It might make us extra careful about where and amongst whom we go, but it can also make us extra careful in the positive sense: taking care to appreciate those we share our lives with every day, and strangers we stand next to on the bus; taking care to speak kindly to people we had not considered before, and to those who are seeming vulnerable; relishing the freedom of walking around the city and countryside, and giving thanks for each day as it arrives with the dawn and each night as it covers us for sleep.
So we continue our lives together, walking together, and standing shoulder to shoulder on buses, at concerts, in supermarket queues, often not knowing next to whom we stand. Even in this way, we build the world up in love more quickly than fear and anger can tear it down.
It takes more courage to live than to choose death. It is more courageous to go on living and loving than to undertake dramatic and violent acts, against others or against oneself. In order to grow strong, we always need something to push against, like growing our muscles by pushing against weights. The world is a gymn, in which we push against anger, hurt and division in order to build our muscles of compassion.
We pray for those in danger, critically ill or separated from their families, that they would find protection, comfort and an easing of their troubles.
We pray for those who are fearful, that their fear can make them alive to what they truly love, and can be turned towards compassion, calm, and consolation.
We pray for those who are grieving, that their hearts would be held in great mercy and kindness, and that they would find comfort and new courage to face the future in hope.
We pray for those who have died, for their rest and freedom from the struggles of the world.
And we pray for those who have survived, thankful that they have been delivered from death, and asking that they and their loved ones would be held in deep peace.
We pray for the perpetrators of violence, that their hearts would be softened and turned.
We pray for us all, and all peoples of the world, when violence impacts us, and we feel the full onslaught of aggression.
May each wound increase our compassion, and our courage to live and work for peace.
The blood of Irish, Catholic immigrants
And Russian, Jewish refugees
Flows through the veins of this Buddhist nun,
A seeker of wisdom, compassion and peace.
Whose path has encircled the world and alights
Now in Edinburgh, where it’s has stayed.
But my heart cries out for Manchester,
For Manchester’s where I was made.
And I weep to see your suffering,
Caused by minds deluded by hate,
Yet tears of sadness are mixed with pride,
Seeing what makes my hometown so great.
Strength and kindness in adversity,
That brave, indomitable spirit,
Bred by love that welcomes diversity,
All embellished with pithy, street wit.
That fortress of Northern souls,
Your red brick streets and fields of dreams,
Bear witness to impossible goals.
In grief we stand united,
United we’ll rise from the ruins,
Like so many who’ve gone before us,
For in Manchester, that’s how we do things.
by Ani Rinchen Khandro, Honorary Buddhist Chaplain to the University of Edinburgh,
AKA Jackie Glass, a Mancunian, 24/5/17