My world changed on Friday.
And most likely, so did yours.
I sat at my computer and wept. My heart shattered as I tried to comprehend the unthinkable. One of those “worst-case scenarios” had come true and it was much worse than any of us ever dared to imagine. And I thought to myself as I sat at my computer:
“I give up.”
I meant it.
I walked around all day in a fog of grief, crying off and on as I tried to process the horror. I shut down my laptop and the news never went on in my house. I have two gradeschool children who didn’t need their innocence stripped away by horrific images on the tv. My hope is they never find out about it. If they do, we’ll talk about it honestly but with only enough information to help them move forward.
At bedtime, my youngest, the same age as many of the victims, asked me why she had seen me crying at the computer earlier in the day. I explained:
“Because I was reading about something bad that happened today and it made me very sad.”
She asked me if I could tell her what it was, and I told her no. She said she wanted to know because now she’d be afraid of what it could be.
I told her it was nothing that had happened close to us. I promised she was safe. And then (in a tremendously poor choice of parenting, clouded by my grief), I added, “Bad things happen every day.” In moments like this, it’s easy to focus on the negative. How can we not? When so many people are hurting, are dying, when we destroy so much of what we are given through apathy more than creating through intentionality – how can we not?
She looked at me for a moment- and then in the wisdom of her innocence said, “But some good things happened today too Momma, right? Like babies being born and people hugging and dogs and all the animals and you reading to us.”
And in that moment I realized, I can’t give up. I owe her and the world at least that much.
Bad things do happen everyday and so do tremendously great things. We need to rally and change the world. We need to clear our heads, process our grief and then it’s time to get our hands dirty. We can sit around on FB all day and post pithy comments that either enflame or preach to the choir about certain issues that describe what we think should be done to fix things. Or we can get out there and do something about the pain in this world. We can love fiercely. We can be kinder to everyone around us. We can look for opportunities, big or small, to make a difference. And every single one of those acts does change someone’s world. We have more power than we give ourselves credit for. Even tiny little baby steps get us closer. But it requires action. We won’t change the world sitting around lamenting for we’ve lost.
This weekend I had the opportunity to make blankets for the homeless and for children in need. It was a few hours of powerful healing action as part of a community. The unspoken was that we all needed to be there- we needed to heal ourselves and the world just a little bit, epecially this weekend. We are powerful. We make a difference. We can change the world and infuse it with love, with caring and understanding.
After 9/11 folksinger Ellis Paul recorded a song written by, Mark Erelli called “The Only Way.” You can listen to it at this link but here are a few of the lyrics:
I read the paper
I watch the news
It seems there’s only pain and sufferin’
And there ain’t much I can do
It’s so senseless
I feel defenseless
I could shut my windows
Bolt my doors
But if I don’t feel safe enough
To speak my mind anymore
Then what’s the use
I’ve nothing left to lose
And no farther to fall
So I’m gonna love
I’m gonna believe
I’m still gonna dream
I’m gonna roll up my sleeves
Give everything until I’ve nothing left to give
That’s the only way that I know how to live
Go out and make a difference in the world today. And then again tomorrow and the day after that and that and that… This is the only way to make sense of the senseless and honor all the lives lost not only on Friday but in every act of evil. We have the power to change the course of our planet, but it will take small steps from everyone of us. I know we can do it. We can’t give up. We owe at least that much to all the souls who’ve gone before us and to this world.