When I first saw the headlines about Paris I had just been reading about a young pastor’s wife who was shot in the early morning hours by a burglar. I thought my heart would explode. And just last week I was reading about the environmental impacts of war, “no-go” zones that have left farmland poisoned, entire communities left as ghosts for the next thousands of years. Then a day late I learned about the suicide bombings in Beirut. For two days I’ve been watching the posts on social media become their own form of crossfire. I find myself lost in the virtual crossfire over and over. Maybe these days it’s too easy to just meme about the way forward, and there is no actual path laid in the forward direction. Humans can be the worst. And the best. And the worst.
Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behavior. You are beneath the thinker. You are the stillness beneath the mental noise. You are the love and joy beneath the pain.
As the silent watcher of my own thoughts I know this about myself: I have to let labels vanish in order to navigate this confusing world clearly. Most recently I find myself crossing over those artificial political and religious lines and I like myself much better there. I like being an independent contractor. It sounds better than “outsider.” Brene Brown says that “professing love is easy, practicing love takes courage.” I no longer fear letting go of things I always thought I knew to be true. I see this very thin line where hurt and the end of hope can transform into hate, and where hate can make people completely numb to the miracle of life. And we all started out as children once. Hate is the only thing I wish there was a rewind button for.
I prayed for Paris, even though some people have said that it wouldn’t help anything. Sometimes prayer is just acknowledging the heart behind it, and finding direction.
“Think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues ‘without ceasing’; we are not conscious of it, but it never stops.”
I rarely write about current events because I question everything. I trust what I think is good and right but sometimes it can’t be put into words. Maybe there are already too many words. I know that I’m more scared of indifference than hate, if the two are even measurable. I don’t think I’ve ever held hate for anyone, but I wish I could put into words why. Am I quick to forgive? Am I lazy? I think we are all more alike than we are different. I think curiosity and wonder could heal the world. I believe in finding your own spiritual medicine: the stuff that makes you feel more connected to this earth and other humans. I believe in being kind to all humans and all creatures. I believe in a good night’s sleep, humility and listening, and I hope all of this makes me courageous enough.
Barbara Brown Taylor says that “we learn things in the dark, that we could have never learned in the light.”
The dark is often the tipping point.
I hope we learn from all of this.
I hope I learn from all of this.
The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.