The situation in Manchester is still unfolding daily. When the 7/7 bombing happened in 2005, and the tragedy of the Westminster attack earlier this year, it was harder for those unfamiliar with the affected places and people to appreciate the suffering of those intimately connected. But when something of that magnitude happens to places and people you love, those of us with friends and colleagues involved in the ongoing caring process feel the shock of it keenly.
It is 21 years since Manchester was targeted in such a way by terrorists, and 4 years since the death of Lee Rigby. The world, particularly those places we think 'it would never happen' to, are now riskier to dwell or visit. One of the worst symptoms of what took place in Manchester, beyond the horrifying nature and scale of its effects, was that it was at an event people thought 'it would never happen' in. A place where children and teenagers gathered in celebration of music they love. Where parents and carers went to a party.
Of all the targets a terrorist would choose, for it to be of the most vulnerable people in a venue of joy is numbing. This was not a place of political grandstanding or ideology. It was a place in which hearts sing.
The nature of evil is to seek to undo the good in the world, or at least convince others that no good exists. What is not realised by evil is that the nature of God is ever-flowing mercy. So no matter what evil tries to do, it can never overcome that which is an unyielding and overwhelming force of love. No matter what evil tries to destroy or deconstruct, love will always return and rebuild. Things may not be the same as before, but they will be stronger. As evident in the attitudes of all those of faiths and none who have responded with (the ubiquitous word) solidarity, people of sometimes competing backgrounds do stand together in the face of evil.
If anyone doubts the existence of the divine or the moving effect it can have on people, it is that sign of solidarity which overcomes hatred. The civil rights movement in America and the effect of Martin Luther King brought to the public conscious the knowledge that we are created to be equals in a world where hate tries to turn us against one another. When evil seeks to divide, it is the coming together of people of different natures, backgrounds, beliefs and perspectives which indicates the truth of the divine: that we were created to live as one body seeking the building up of our neighbour, not their destruction.
That is the beautiful nature of God.