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A Shooting on Sacred Ground
Campus photo / Seattle Pacific University

A few years ago, an Orthodox professor extended an invitation from his priest to come and bless our office—the University Communications office at Seattle Pacific University. We're both an evangelical and an ecumenical university, which means all our faculty and staff share faith and unity in Christ, but we differ in the particulars of that faith. I was a little bit nervous when the priest showed up in a big beard and black robe, holding a bowl of water and a brush. He then proceeded to fling water everywhere with the brush, all over the paper and computers, while speaking words of blessing around the office. I thought, Couldn't we bless the office by bowing our heads and closing our eyes? Or at least something less messy?

I spent last Thursday afternoon on lockdown in that same office with my coworkers. We sat around our conference table in a room with no windows. We prayed, tense and silent, as we waited for news about the shooting that had happened on our campus. We texted and called family and friends to let them know we were safe. We watched and waited, as ambulances carried injured students to the hospital and helicopters hovered overhead.

In those awful moments, which I never want to live through again, the memory of the priest blessing our office was what popped into my head. I remembered the physical blessing that took place in the physical space of a basement office on a university campus. I remembered how the priest prayed for us and told us our work was sacred. I remembered his wet, physical blessing.

"Our sacred place has been desecrated," I kept thinking. "What a desecration."

I was born and have lived most of my life in college towns, and I've always thought ...

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A Shooting on Sacred Ground
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June 2014

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