- By Eileen Vandergrift
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So, in my last Post I suggested that we lean into our grief as a way of resisting fear…what a challenge that has become this month! The gravity of pain I feel as I watch peoples terrorized responses to violence has only one ‘bright’ dimension that I can decipher and that is that, as I replay news casts in my head, I often don’t remember what color the people were, which ‘side’ of hell they were on, or even which circumstance they were in when horror met them. At night, as I try to sleep, I hear their TV voices, the stew of their uncomprehending cries and wordless paralysis. I hear them retreating from reason and hopefulness about life. Sometimes, I worry that the weight of it all could shift my worldview in a dark way. I worry about this for you too. I think refusing to be made fearful is a worthy fight but it is a hard one. This week has continued to unfold with more violence…stories of a group of police being ambushed in Louisiana and an attack on multiple people riding a train in Germany. Life, so brimming with sorrow, has made me feel a need to counter my sense of helplessness with action. I have found myself thinking a lot about a myriad of personal losses and trying to remember what kept me moving forward through them. Surely, relief came from many quarters but I found it most notably in small personal gestures. Even if I’ve only got an ink blotter to hold up against this tidal wave, I figure that a few drops absorbed counts for something. I want to encourage us all to find something that we can DO as a way to comfort ( ourselves and others). Believing that I can make a small difference, and that others will feel my hands reaching for them, has inclined me to think beyond myself into the big world situation right now. It’s motivated me to find some small ‘somethings’ to DO, like writing a check for burial services that are now an unanticipated financial hardship for too many families, taking even more seriously the impact of my vote, smiling at strangers (especially ones who looks different than me). I’ve talked to the policeman I usually pass on Pearl Street with a question about how he was doing…stopping long enough to hear his answer. ( It felt good to tell him that I appreciate what he does.I suspect it felt good to him to be asked.) There are many small ways we can reach out. Would you consider writing a letter to one of the children whose mom or dad gave their life protecting yours? (You can be sure that they’d cherish it. ) We can all try harder to speak to the people around us with respect for the many complex feelings that they may hold beneath the surface and need to have listened to. What do you think about learning a few words in another language and using them? Can you pray? If you have friends of different faiths, nationalities, gender identities, maybe you could ask them how they’re doing with all this? If you don’t have any such people in your life, maybe you could think about that? If you can’t find any new people to talk to maybe you could find someone in an older generation that once immigrated here from a now-familiar-land and let them tell you some of the challenges they met. One way or the other, take up the challenge of “Seeing how this could be you”, showing your gratitude for the many days when it is not.