Monday, July 29, 2019

I have no wisdom for you

I have no wisdom for you

I wish I did.  When yet another tragedy strikes I wish I had exactly the right thing to say.  How do we find comfort in times such as these?  In the midst of taking some “me time” - going out to a movie to recover from the work-week - I turned my phone on and was shocked by the news of a racist, mass-shooting right here in my own neighborhood.
Why does it strike you deeper when it’s in your own backyard?  It shouldn’t, right? But somehow while it still cuts deep when tragedy strikes far away, it doesn’t cut as deep as when it’s on our own turf.  The mind can say, “that could have been my loved ones!” much more easily.
And it feels like one more straw on this camel’s back.  One more vision of horror amidst all the others on display everyday, and it’s hard to feel wise and compassionate and all that right now.  I had just given a sermon yesterday morning on the Fire of Commitment, and while I’ll stand by those ideas, they don’t soothe my heart in this moment.

Right now I have no wisdom for you, only grief.  I think we long to be able to “fix” it as soon as possible.  I want to be able to give you the perfect Buddhist meditation for just such a moment.  If I were a pundit, I would be spinning your pain into the kind of action we need to take against our enemies.  There are thousands of ways to try to fix what we’re feeling.

Perhaps it’s good that no “wisdom” comes to mind.  While I have to deal with my own imposter syndrome about it (“Shouldn’t you be leading a candle-light vigil or something, pastor?”  “Shouldn’t you know just what to say to provide comfort?”), maybe it’s good that I can’t jump to some platitude about the afterlife, or some political slogan about who or what our enemies are, or some self-help method to try to numb an uncomfortable feeling.

Because the grief is REAL.  To not feel it deeply would be disrespectful.  It would be to disrespect and close my heart to those who have been hurt or killed.  It would be to deny how deeply I long for a better world in which we can care for each other in fellowship and love.  And so the grief and terror I feel are important.  I don’t want to “wisdom” them away, not really. I want to be uncomfortable, because this discomfort is a face of love.

I haven’t any comforting words for you today.  I don’t have an “action plan” or a “coaching tip”, no petitions, and I don’t even have any prayers.  But I will feel with you.  I will sit here with my heart raw and demolished.  In that we can be together. And that does bring some comfort, maybe a real comfort, one that doesn’t deny our pain, but recognizes that if we hold each other up, the pain can be borne.  That may be the only way it can be borne. It’s too heavy to carry alone.