I said nothing about Connecticut because, really, what do you say? Especially when everyone else seems to have too much to say, words that will fill Facebook and Twitter and newsreels (and all other targeted facets of human subconscious) for weeks . . . until . . .
until . . .
Because no one seems to be saying much about any of it any more. It's slowly fading into the realm of memory for most of the nation, and with it the rawness and realness of the present that catapults so many of us into action, that makes us hunger for real change.
I don't want that to happen. The sweet faces of those children are seared on my brain. Their parents, friends, and loved ones are now the walking wounded -- if they can manage to get up and walk at all. The whole thing rests too close to my realm of experience, is too closely aligned with my worst nightmares, for me to let it go -- or to fully let it in.
Have I been hugging my own students tighter? You bet. Do I feel my heart leap out of my chest in longing for the students I've said goodbye to throughout the years? Most definitely. I hope they know I love them, still. All of them. Always. Does that heal or help anything? I believe it does. I've said before that my students are the "best prayers I have for peace," and I hold to that now more than ever. Otherwise, what hope do we have left?
Is it selfish to relate the tragedy of others to yourself? Or simply human nature? What qualifies as empathy, and is empathy part of our truest nature, deep down?
Like so much else, I
So I return to my own healing places and spaces. I resolve, once again, to turn to goodness.
I've shared this poem here before, but it resonated so deeply again this morning that I'm posting it a second time.
Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every wherelike a shadow or a friend.