During my short residence there, I fell further in love with the physical beauty and geographical diversity of the state, as well as the climate, but also with the people, particularly those in northern Arizona. There was a friendly, Libertarian spirit there; a sense of freedom with a little hint of the "wild West." Everyone was earthy, open, accepting. (Sure, you'll meet some nasty people wherever you go, but I found them to be few and far between.) This is one of very few places I have ever felt I fit in, perhaps because all of us there were peculiar in some way but were happy to embrace the differences.
What's more, I had some spectacular spiritual experiences there. I like to say that although I have been a Christian for most of my life, I met God in Arizona; and though I believe God is everywhere, I also like to say that God lives in northern Arizona.
It's been years since I left Arizona, and I believe I'm where I am supposed to be, but I still feel a connection and a draw "home." I still feel a kinship with the people there. So when I heard of the shooting in Tucson over the weekend, my heart ached. This was an attack on my people. I mourn for the victims and their families.
The political bickering over it has been hard to bear, but what has brought me to tears is the Westboro Church's plans to protest at the funerals. Make no mistake about it - these people are not Christian. They parade around behind signs that say "God hates you," and in the process dishonor God. Yes, there are things that God hates... lies, pride, murder, people who "sow discord" (Proverbs 6), but the Westboro Church chooses to ignore these. The overwhelming message of the Bible is that God loves, that God IS love.
My prayers are with the people affected by the shooting.
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. I John 4:16