Praying in memory of those killed at Virginia Tech today, at the long litany of names of those whose lives ended too early, I got overwhelmed.
Not just by those 32 names, but by the 183 killed in Iraq today.
Learning details of the precious lives lost in Virginia, celebrating their particularities, I felt pangs of guilt: I know nothing of the lives of the 183.
I remember the number, because I was looking at numbers: the 153 fish miraculously caught when Jesus told his disciples to cast their net on the other side of the boat, when he visited them at the seashore after his resurrection.
I was typing "153" into the Google search bar, which I noticed a similar number in the yahoo headlines. But instead of being a reminder of God's good abundance, or of the rich ways God provides for us, it was a reminder of the ugliness of human violence. And, 183 is even more than 153.
Turns out that 153 has all sort of mathematical significance. In sequences, it's remarkable: the sum of the first 17 integers. Also, the sum of 1 through 5 factorial. According to Wikipedia, it's the biggest commonly-known number.
And so I pray for the lives of a even greater number of people. I pray in thanksgiving for their rich particularities, which I know nothing of. I pray for my own ignorance.
I pray for peace, and for sensibility for our national leadership. I pray for an end to violence, everywhere.