Did I Ever Once Pray?

Alfred P Murrah Federal Building before destruction

I am trying to remember if I ever once prayed for the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing.

I know I prayed — and fervently — that the FBI would get the right person or persons. The only thing worse than being a victim of one of these things would be to be accused of it and not have done it.

I wanted the right people to get got.

I think I prayed before the execution of one of the perpetrators. I remember I was upset about the idea of them strapping him down and killing him like he was an animal in a slaughter house. I never confused him with an animal. I always knew he was human and that what he had done was a specifically human act.

I did not want him executed. But once he was dead, I was glad that I would never have to hear any of his comments or words again. I was glad his ashes were scattered. I did not want him to have a grave where people would go and take photos of each other standing beside his marker. I wanted him forgot.

But … did I ever pray for his soul? I think I did, on the day of his execution. But I’m honestly not sure.

I’ve never prayed for it since then. I can tell you that.

I spent far too much time back then, thinking about the perpetrators of this mass murder. It was so premeditated. They planned it and worked toward it for months, robbing for money and resources that they stockpiled until they had enough to build a bomb. This was beyond deliberate. It was something these men worked toward the way better people work toward college degrees or buying their first home. It was a long-term goal for them.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around that. I could not fathom that someone would get up in the morning and go to work building a bomb to kill other people and that they could do it for months. Why would anyone think this was a good idea?

Then, one day, I realized that I would never understand and that I didn’t need to understand. 

I can’t understand Beethoven, either. But for different reasons. I hear the Fifth Symphony and I know that he heard it before he ever wrote a note. He heard all of the instruments in his mind. He heard them individually and together simultaneously. He heard it and he wrote it down with musical notes on a piece of paper so that we could hear it too.

How did he do that? How can anyone do what Beethoven did? I don’t understand because I do not have the talent to fly that high.

Conversely, I don’t understand these cold-blooded killers because I can’t bend down that low. You have to squeeze yourself into a painfully small box to think like these murderers do. You have to amputate large parts of your soul and psyche to shrink it down to something small enough to even begin to comprehend why and how they could decide that doing something like this was a worthy project.

Every time one of these things happens, we are inundated with comments from people who tell us that the killer seemed like one of us. But of course, that’s not true. They’re not like us, at least not in the only thing about them that matters to the rest of us; their murderous desires. The “normal Joe” mass murderer is an ironic viewpoint perpetrated on the rest of us to titillate and engage us. It is not true.

I don’t know and I don’t care why and how they are different. That’s the job of FBI profilers and others with a calling and a dedication that I don’t have.

I suppose, after I write this, I’m going to have to pray for the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing. It’s not going to be easy. I will first have to dig them out from the box where I put them long ago.

The one labeled “Trash.”

220px Oklahomacitybombing DF ST 98 01356

  • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com: neenergyobserver

    After reading this, I suppose I’ll have to join you in going through that box. But, it’s probably overdue, for me, anyway.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Me too my friend.

      • MaryMargaret

        It is always harder to pray for perpetrators who acted within your own sphere. Good luck..I know I fail..do I pray for Dennis Rader? Not often..he didn’t kill any of my family..but he terrified my daughter. I also find that hard to forgive..and praying for him..not so much. Will try.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          I understand.

  • Peg

    I offered them up as well having never done so either. I wasn’t practicing my faith then but I always remember this anniversary. I think it was because I was carrying my first child and could not believe anyone could do this but especially park a truck near a daycare center and walk away. Eighteen years or one hundred doesn’t seem enough time.

    My prayers for you Rebecca and everyone involved. Peace

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I wasn’t involved directly Peg. I heard the bomb go off — shook my house — and I know people who died, as well as people who were terribly injured and whose injuries will require life-long care, also their families.

      • MaryMargaret

        But it was in OKC. I think you live there..and knew the people who were killed..or some of them..Yes, you were directly involved..I was, too. Even though no one I knew was killed..my sister responded and helped with triage. It is just hard. Really hard.

  • http://www.bede.org Stefanie

    In the past 12 months in particular, I have felt a greater agony if I do NOT pray for these people who did their acts while coming from a dark spiritual place that, please, Lord, I never ever experience. Many of our saints have said that no one is beyond our prayer. And we may not know the answered prayer until after our own death.
    Recently, I have even added Kermit Gosnell and his associates to my prayer list.
    When souls are in danger — our own, our family’s, our enemies…we MUST pray that their souls will be saved…that they will turn to God.
    I am sure that Father Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein did indeed pray for those who ordered their deaths. Perhaps that is why …in the end of his life here on earth, the former commandant of Auschwitz, facing his own death, asked to see a priest who would hear his confession. The only priest they could find who could speak German stopped at a Carmelite convent near the prison. The priest asked the good nuns to pray for himself and for the commandant – Rudolf Hoss who had turned away from the Catholic Church when he thought his confessor had revealed a confessed sin to his parents. Amazingly, incredible, in only the way that God can enter into us through the sacraments, sins were confessed and the next day, weeping, he received Holy Communion once more. In his final letter to his wife, the former commandant wrote, “It was a hard struggle. But I have found my faith in God.” This story was often told by Father Lohn, the Jesuit priest who ministered to him. There is indeed a wideness in God’s mercy.

  • http://mywordwall.wordpress.com Imelda

    Who knows, perhaps, because of your prayers, this cold hearted men repented and were given mercy by God. There have been testimonies of Saints where at the very last minute, men who lived evil lives was not damned because of someone’s prayers.
    Though like you, I wonder if I ever prayed for those who did such nasty things.

  • Ted Seeber

    I pray for their souls- because the blessing behind the curse of my temper is I understand these acts in a way few others do.

    I’ve never been able to explain it to others though.


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