I am so unsettled by the rain. The sun has not yet risen. It is still very dark outside. Yesterday this tiny part of the world was blanketed in a soft cover of snow. It was quiet. It felt soft even thought it was cold. Softness brought by coldness.
I am unsettled by more than the rain. It feels to me, in the rhythmic beat of my heart and in the flowing water in my body that the world is unsettled. In a painful way. The moon was full the other night. I thought then of the silent power of the moon. The power it has as a rock circling our planet, to tug and pull the waters of the seas and oceans. I felt it too. Like a heating up of my insides. A restlessness that did not feel good. A restlessness that almost made it hurt to be where I was. Neither was it a restlessness that I felt would lead me to someplace I needed to be. How could it?
I thought over and over again of this poem by Warsan Shire. Her words were like the ebb and flow of the tides moved by the dappled moon….everywhere. Everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
“later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt?
Too many people tell me, “Turn it off.” Or, “Don’t listen.”
Sometimes, I am told, “It will be okay.”
Look around. Listen.
“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.”
~Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
So, when do we begin to listen to the stories? When DO we use the understanding we gain through listening to empower, humanize and repair broken dignity?
Are you more alike or unlike the children in Aleppo Syria who have forgotten how to cry? Are you more alike or unlike the Islanders of the sinking islands of Micronesia…..soon to vanish under rising waters of Global Warming? Are you more alike or unlike the fear-stricken parent wondering if their child will be kidnapped and forced into a child army, or if their daughter will be kidnapped, raped and/or murdered? Do you know that your child will be like or unlike you in your life of poverty or violence? Do you have the courage to say to these people “In my life I too have felt what you feel. I know…”
If we take our deepest pain, our most piercing pain….and magnify it a hundred fold, then we can do that.
We have to strengthen our personal sense of humanity, compassion and love and bring in up to the surface of our lives and listen, with open hearts, to the stories Maya speaks of in order to understand. And then as one, we must rise up and use our voices, our spirit, our actions to cry “stop”. We must demand the infliction of hurt, pain and suffering on people around the world to STOP.
There are no Others. We ARE more alike than not and with that comes a profound responsibility to listen to the pain and take responsibility to end it for the millions of people around the world.
We must begin to support fellow human beings who are in a deep abyss of pain and suffering.
I work to be mindful and not complacent of the circumstances of my life. I have a childish fear of open closet doors in my bedroom. And I dutifully lock the house doors at night to protect what offers me comfort. I do not take for granted the relief and joy I feel when my children walk through the front door. I am not ignorant that million in the world have things to really be afraid of and not imaginary monsters in closets. I am not blind to the fact that millions of people have no home because it has been destroyed by the bombs of war. They have no door of protection. I am not without emotion in thinking of the millions of parents who will never see their children again.
Neither you or I are better than any other person. Anywhere. Any more deserving of feeling safe, of having food, water. Of giving birth to children who will live. Of going to bed at night and sleeping. Of closing and locking a door.
We are all bound together. And we have forgotten that. Or are ignorning that.
I am unsettled in my heart. I listen to the stories. I hear them, but how can I understand them on any level of reality? All I can do is to witness the pain. Believe the words. Condemn the hate and stand up and speak out. I do not want to be a symbol of apathy. Of shrugging and wondering what I can do.
Tell me, please, do you ever feel this unsettledness? How do you witness the hurt and suffering in the world? Do you believe we must support all of the Others because we are more alike than unalike? What does your religion, you spirituality, demand of you in the care and responsibility of Others? What did your mother and father teach you? What matters to you? What is of importance to you? What do you tell your children? How do you live your life?
We are coming upon the Winter Solstice. The time of year when we witness the beginning of the return of Light to Darkness.
As Ms. Shire asks, “Where does it hurt?”
I ask, “Do you hear the answer of the world? “