It’s all a bit much sometimes, don’t you think? Does anyone else feel the burdens of our individual and collective worlds pile up, one by one — a crick in your neck or a weight across your shoulders? Hoping there’s a way to contribute to a solution for each dilemma, but feeling powerless against the scope of work?
Open a news site, social media, the television and sometimes even snail mail, and it’s another kick in the gut. Each day begins anew, yet a phone call, doctor’s visit, headline, distraction, or weather pattern has the potential to turn our comfortable norms completely upside down as the loose change goes scattering.
Today is 9.12.17. Sixteen years ago yesterday, our country was attacked by terrorists in airplanes, and families lost loved ones forever in an instant. Hurricane Irma comes tearing through the southeast, causing loss and devastation throughout the Caribbean, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The national and international news is sad and frustrating as populations struggle and dictators rule. There is laundry and work and bills and cancer and family trauma— batter up and keep swingin’.
After tucking the kids into bed last night, my husband and I cracked a window and listened to Irma’s mighty winds and rains. The power flickered on and off, and wind gusts ripped off tree limbs. I was in and out of sleep, praying for safety amidst the storm.
My eyes still shut, I slowly woke this morning to the sound of birds chirping, their songs telling me everything was alright. The storm had passed. I sifted between awakening and dreams: I’d been dreaming of Easter, and my son asked about “Parmesan Sunday.” It’s “Palm” Sunday, not “Parmesan,” I said to my child who can’t get enough of Parmesan cheese, even in my dreams.
It’s mid-morning now, and I’m wondering why I dreamt about Easter in September. Hope beyond hope, perhaps? A resurrection after the storm? But when I think of the grief and turmoil some situations and events bring humanity, I cannot fathom how people can find a glimmer of hope after the storm. Even sixteen years later. How can a midnight storm be reconciled with daybreak?
It’s now several weeks into September, and I’ve been reflecting on how we strive to sooth each heartbreak and challenge against the backdrop of uncontrollable situations in our homes, cities, nations, and world. Reconcile: cause to exist in harmony. Reconcile: make (one account) consistent with another, especially by allowing for transactions begun but not yet completed.
There is nothing we can do to change the past. What has happened in our worlds that broke us to the core, or what happened on 9/11 to those forever grieving in its wake, or the destruction of hurricanes, or the reckless actions of leaders in power- these things cannot change.
So when does the reconciliation come, and how far into the depths of despair do we have to search for it? Or do we chalk these things up as eternally irreconcilable, survey the landscape and the shattered pieces, and just leave the destruction scattered and strewn across our lives? Perhaps for a while, because we are not able to face the storm in our limited understanding, and picking up the debris hurts.
The paradox of the matter is that is impossible to stay in this complacent place of chaos, and it is impossible to go backward for a re-do, no matter how hard we wish for a rewind and an if-only.
So with bravery and tenacity, we take a tiny and cautious step forward because, in the end, there’s really nothing else to do. We relinquish the ability to understand how this could ever possibly happen, because oh yes, it did.
The despondent break open just a tee, tiny crack, so the Light infiltrates into the deep and dark places. Challenging and easy, good and bad, love and evil, aiding and censuring. We face the storms and the wreckage with our softness, our breaking open, our willingness to love. Despite. Despite the fact that we may never understand or find restoration in the opposing forces.
I imagine the Sunday morning after Friday’s crucifixion. The birds are singing. “God teaches us more and more to love one another,” someone wrote in a letter to me recently. Sometimes our situations disguise the love, so it’s beyond our ability to see or grasp. But Sunday morning still comes, and a miraculous Hope awaits there.