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Prayer for SXSW – Finding Comfort

iStock_000017015012SmallBy Laura Moliter, CS

The month of March in Austin, Texas, guarantees two events:  South by Southwest — a forever growing festival for film, music, and interactive media– and bluebonnets. The weather is changeable and unpredictable, but bluebonnets and South by Southwest are reliable signs that spring is here in Central Texas.

This year, South by Southwest (SXSW) came in like a lion with its usual roar of exuberance, activity, celebrities, crowds, and fun. Film premieres brought out a number of Hollywood stars and many of the world’s top-notch musicians descended upon my city, a place already bursting at the seams with artistic expression. Things had been well-underway for about a week, and the revelry that accompanies festivals like this also took over. 

As late night music activities continued into Thursday’s early hours, a suspected drunk driver drove into a crowd at the festival, killing two and injuring a number of others. I awoke to the news and a call to join in prayer from other spiritual thinkers living here or attending the festival. After my initial surprise and horror, I felt a great sense of compassion for all. That loving thought led to an openness to God’s guidance on how to pray further and to be a force for peace and healing, rather than rubbernecking the scene mentally from my chair. I knew I couldn’t erase that awful moment from those innocent people’s lives nor excuse the driver’s carelessness, but I could focus away from the horror and keep my eyes on the road, directed toward what would be most loving and healing.

As I drove out to my office Thursday morning, I was reflecting on how to pray and how to proceed with my day. Just as the thoughts of the frightening scene attempted to crowd and cloud my thought, I looked to the side of the road and there was my first sighting of this year’s Texas bluebonnets. There they were, brightening the highway, oblivious to my inner turmoil or even to the rush of cars going by. Every year, these iconic blue flowers burst out with color and life. And no matter how often I see these flowers utilized in Texas photography and art, I am always just delighted to view them in person when they come out to greet the Central Texas spring.

It got me thinking about these words from that soul of wisdom and compassion, Christ Jesus (Luke 12: 22, 27-28):

“…Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on…Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?”

If those bluebonnets and lilies could continue to grow and flourish, bloom and be beautiful, demonstrate life, renewed each year, then certainly God could care for each one of those affected by this tragedy. I reasoned that each idea of God, each child of His, is tenderly cared for, cherished, loved. In fact, the police and first responders were immediate evidence of that care in action.

I realized I needed to have more faith in this truth as Jesus taught, because what he taught was meant not to judge, but to heal. Just as each flower naturally sprang back up into the spring air, so would God’s perfect, nurturing, precise Love cause each one affected by or disturbed by this tragic event, to find the promise and beauty of life restored individually and for the festival as a whole as well.  I could not take away every tear or fear myself, but I knew that God could, and I needed to trust that.

As the festival continues today and into the weekend, I continue to know that no random human action or anger at it could stop beauty and goodness from reappearing here in Austin and everywhere else, just like those faithful bluebonnets, always ready to blossom and bless.

Laura Moliter is a Christian Science Practitioner, local musician and blogger from Austin TX.

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