“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
I’m feeling quiet, my modus operandi when difficult moments strike, and while I’m letting that natural pondering occur, I’m also exploring it’s simple significance, like running my hands over a blackening bruise in awe, or letting my fingertips graze water while floating downstream in a kayak.
Disaster or tragedy happens and I often retreat into quiet. I’m a writer and know the power of words and have become more cautious, not more verbose, over time. I’m seeking the power of the extraordinary in language. Perhaps this is a bit much to heap on my shoulders, perhaps not. It just is.
I’m thinking that my moments of silence are a spiritual connection, an attempt to seek deeper meaning. Silence is my ritual, my way of processing and understanding before I share my impressions in the public arena. Words are permanent and powerful and I want mine to be authentic, honest and personal.
My silence in Ghana was a coping mechanism, my silence in the aftermath of Newtown was an attempt to manage a grief with no words, my relative silence about the Boston Marathon has been a misguided belief I have come out on the other side unscathed.
I haven’t. How could I?
I overhear strangers talk about the bombing on a plane from Denver to Boston and my heart rate increases, I want to cover my ears, and I want to make them shut up.
I listen to the sounds of catastrophe on the news and in the words on Facebook in the midst of the flooding in my home state now and instead of hearing the torrent of water pouring from the foothills like an enormous pitcher of mud-filled liquid, I hear explosions. I see the faces of those I ran by as I tried to find Hannah, I see the cement 3-foot pillar with rounded top that I tried to climb on to with shaking knees to search through the sea of runners for my daughter. I see police officers, one minute calm, the next minute running towards the finish line, towards danger. I feel it. I feel again the fear, no that’s a lie–I feel absolute terror in what was initially an unknown, hear the unthinkable thoughts that tried to push their way to the surface, but that I fought because I had to. I had to find my daughter. I felt both incredibly alone and bonded to the human beings I was sharing those moments with. We are forever connected by a certain kind of horrible knowing that slapped everyone present at that underpass with the surreal. Such things cannot be glossed over.
I keep trying to avoid going there in my mind and heart and yet I am pulled to those moments as if they float on the current of the river that ran a block from my house, ran down what had been a two lane road until 11 inches of rain made child’s play out of man’s work.
I think sometimes I try to rush past the hard stuff.
My silence is not a quiet place. It is loud and chaotic and it is searching for a way to heal and guarantee the safety of those I love.
Life is not finite. Our lives evolve and we will have different adventures every day if we are lucky. Sometimes those experiences will knock us on our ass.
I believe our task is to try to get back up.
I believe our task is to try not to rush the hard stuff, but instead “allow our souls to lie down in the grass” for a bit.
I believe our task is to learn to walk in the midst of life gently and in kindness because our existence, and the existence of those we love, is precious. We know this to be especially so when we are in moments of danger.
I sat down at my computer today to chat with my silence and to write about this mind-blowing flood.
But a significant part of me is still standing in skinny jeans and leather jacket, slightly shivering in the raw New England spring air, one minute smiling in pride and encouraging strangers towards a line drawn across asphalt less than a quarter mile away, and she is reaching out her hand to the other part of me that began running, is still running, running frightened against runners while searching for her daughter. She is reaching out her hand and saying, “It’s time to stop running. You found what you were looking for.”
My silence is reaching for you.
This is my ritual.
“And really, it wasn’t much good having anything exciting like floods, if you couldn’t share them with somebody.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh