The Candle I’ll Light

 The first day after a death, the new absence 
Is always the same.
We should be careful 
Of each other, we should be kind 
While there is still time. -Phillip Larkin
 I’m feeling so very tender about world events right now. Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Africa.  That another human being’s last moments can be filled with such sickness, grief, violence, torture, and despair at the hands of another human being anywhere in the world brings me to my knees with deep grief and repentance. It makes me feel that my own life is so very small, so incredibly fragile.
 I’m feeling very tender about the suicide of Robin Williams and the recent suicide of missing Oregon wife and mother of 2, Jennifer Huston. That there is a force so dark it can cause someone with so much depth, love, and joy in their life to end it all is heartbreaking. My fear is that I cannot tell another person ‘it gets better’ because I haven’t walked their walk, and I honestly don’t know that it does. It makes me feel helpless to love as well as I’d like to, those who are walking through life right beside me, hurting in silence. This world is terribly, terribly broken. I am so terribly, terribly broken.
Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.
 The worst part is, we all want to believe that if we had done something differently, the tragedies we see in our lives and on the news could have been avoided. We comb through the history of our own lives, and the history of mankind with this lens. If we have the best intentions, subscribe to the right political ideology, or champion the most effective child-rearing philosophy we can move through life without ever having to experience the grief inflicted by simply doing life with other hurting people.  But, the people closest to any tragedy know differently. They know that they did everything they could, and yet still here they are: sitting right in the middle of the devastation. Future prevention, present postulations, all the meaning making in the world doesn’t make it hurt any less. Doesn’t make this one tragedy, this one loss any more or less real.

Here we are, right in the center of the darkness.

Times like these, I feel desperate to end suffering for those I love and for those I don’t even know. And yet, I feel helpless to do a single thing about it for even one person I know, let alone the millions around the world I cannot possibly reach.That my mark on this world is so unremarkable is both soul-crushing and liberating. The fact remains, I am far less powerful than I want to believe. And yet the solution for me is this simple: do my part. Let go of the need to see any tangible evidence that my life, or my efforts mattered. To give beauty for ashes, that’s God’s job, not mine.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Do your part. Just give. Just love. Just serve. Right now. You don’t need to know why or how or if what you do will even make a difference. Have faith that it will, and let it go.Today I will kiss my baby’s fat, sweaty feet. Hold my husband a little longer. Go to therapy. Learn more about suicide prevention and depression. Buy a friend flowers for her doorstep. Choose to shop in places where my money does more good than harm. Donate money to organizations that are sending relief in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, and Africa. Because, a changed heart (more tender, more open, right here, right now),  is the only candle I have to light in the darkness of it all.

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