Monday, March 14, 2011

Simple. Beautiful.

With everything that’s complicated and intricate in the world today, it continually surprises me when something simple strikes me. A glimpse of a spring bird in winter. A memory that rises from within an unexpected scent. A joyful thought with no foundation. Tiny things that seem to pop out of the blue.

These small things are what I cling to when things around me seem shaky—and at times such tiny moments actually arise when things are shakiest. I guess “shaky” is an apt metaphor, given the recent earthquake disaster in Japan. I ache for those for whom all simple, everyday things must now seem so distant.

A friend said to me recently (in a discussion of the quake), “I don’t know how we’re sitting here, going about the day to day.” In light of the suffering going on across the world, she meant. Not that we have to look as far as Japan to find suffering in our midst.

Her comment made me wonder for a long moment, about what the correct response to global tragedies really is, in the short and long term. We can give money, send prayers, raise awareness—generous acts of deep human kindness that, in time, bring healing to those who hurt. Yes. Good. We can watch the news coverage and cry, show we care, that we feel something for the unimaginable. Yes. Good. But there always comes a day when we turn off the TV and we try to forget. Maybe we succeed.

Whether we are near to a disaster or far from it, there has to be meaning in our will to go on living. Is it apathy? Sometimes. We can own that and still move on. Because, in the end, what are we really giving by wallowing indefinitely in pain for the sake of empathy?

There’s such wonder in our midst—at times it’s large and tragic, sometimes small and hopeful. Tiny gifts that all the complexity in the world can’t account for. Grace in the curve of a flower petal. Hope that rises from ashes, the hands to repair broken things. It reminds me to smile, sometimes through the tears.

What helps you heal in the face of tragedy?

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