There is so much pain in the world I just want to make it better. I want to reach out, touch, ease the burden. If only I could brush my thumb across your forehead and soothe your furrowed brow. If only I could place my hand over yours and relief could escape your lips. If only I could sit with you, in silence, and your grief would know it is not alone. You are not alone…..
I recently read a blog (a response to the Boston bombing) about being safe. About wanting to keep our children safe. What a farce! We cannot keep our children, or anyone else, including ourselves, safe.
Free from harm! Not on your life! There’s no way.
So what to do? Harm is everywhere. There is no freedom from pain.
I guess one response would be to secure ourselves in a tower of fear. Yes, that’s it. Be aware of all the dangers out there. . . constantly on the look out. . . vigilant . . . senses highly tuned to every sound, to every shadow that could harm.
I imagine that would keep us safe. . . right? That way I could avoid all the harm, all the pain. Right? That way my kids would never get hurt. Right? That there would be no risk of suffering. Right?
No. That would be an illusion. A facade of smoke and mirrors that would cause more pain and suffering. Fear IS harm. Fear is a prison that lies and tells you that you are safe but slowly devours you from the inside. It eats away at your soul. Leaves you behind bars . . . and alone . . . dissolving to nothingness.
But I don’t want to feel pain. And even more so I don’t want YOU to feel pain. I want you to be kept from harm. . . . you, my friends, my children, my husband. You, the stranger who is being crushed under the weight of suffering too heavy to bear.
I see you. I see your anguish. I see how it dulls the sparkle in your eyes, how is curves your shoulders and bends your back. How you stumble as you so bravely carry it through your day, through your life. . . . moment my moment . . . so heavy.
What can I offer? I can’t take it away. I can’t change the circumstance. I can’t pick it up like a large boulder and carry it away. . . far, far away so it does not weigh you down anymore.
All I can offer is myself. All I can do is sit in the suffering WITH you. All I can do is not shrink away, not be horrified, not talk you out of it, not shame you and not force you to pretend it isn’t there. All I can do is offer myself. Not my love, not my acceptance, not my sympathy, or pity or kindness. NO! Me, all of me. Present! Showing up! In your pain. I might be afraid, and I might be shy. You see, your pain reminds me of my pain. It reminds me of the ugly truth that there is no freedom from harm. No protection from injury. But that is not enough reason to stay away. . . and all the more reason be to present.
So perhaps we need to redefine “safe”. Perhaps “safe” is not freedom from harm or injury. Perhaps “safe” is me “with” you. And in the ugly of pain we will discover the beauty of connection. In the horrible of suffering we will find the loveliness of belonging. You to me and me to you.
And neither of us will be alone. And we will both me “safe”.