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to greet fellow travelers on a shared path, we’ve recognized identifying markers, reassured by a string of lights, smiling, guiding us home.
There has been enough this year— enough of most everything. enough adventure to lift flagging spirits, enough hurdles to cajole us into dusting off dormant skills, learning the rules of new games, adjusting our vision so we can see farther— in this lingering fog, enough sprints and sputters to keep us hopeful and humble.
Sometimes enough has seemed like too much.
enough loss— enough, we’re certain, to last a lifetime— loss so deep that our souls have wept burning tears into the pulsing chambers of our crushed hearts. Alone. Afraid. Alienated from all that has offered solace and sanctuary in the past.
Even there we’ve had enough— barely, it seems—
just enough to breathe once more, to care for a child or to grieve their absence, to walk the dog, prepare a sparse meal or send a disjointed text;
just enough life remaining in the shells of our bodies to take one more step away from the edge of despair. We’ve had enough light. enough Presence. enough grace.
In the fog we’ve needed to gather our cloaks of compassion and humanity firmly around us rather than succumb to apathy, cruelty, or the despair of cynicism.
Still there is fog,
sometimes dense enough to cause us to instinctively rub our eyes, thinking our vision will somehow clear. It will not!
sometimes the fog will bring us to a complete standstill for so long that we impatiently tap on the steering wheel of our life, test the fog lamps, throw the gearshift into “drive,” trying to inch into the darkness. We cannot!
gradually our heart rate calms, breath slows, eyes adjust without revealing more light nor offering orientation or direction.
Sometimes we are grounded and yet we have enough— we are enough.
A new year shimmers beyond the fog. We see only outlines now: ghosts of our nightmares? visions of our hopes? caricatures of past failures? glowing lanterns that beckon us onward?
We’ve had enough, we will have enough —sometimes without surplus, sometimes with extravagant abundance— we are enough as we move with the Light into the unknown— knowing it is enough.
In the frenzy of holiday cheer and shimmering lights, carefully choreographed to numb our fears and mask our plight,
we hallow our programs and parties, prepare our packages with flawless precision all while ignoring the dissonance— the clanging of bells no longer in tune, the core of our being precariously pulled like a frayed, overextended cord we no longer trust to hold us together.
slow down, notice, listen—
we are honored guests invited into stillness afforded as light gradually shrinks fades retreats into its own hibernation of rest and restoration and resurrection.
somehow we have believed the seduction of noise and light posing as heralds of merriment and festivity, a culmination of frantic weeks of consumerism and distraction.
we adorn our world with sensory overload, convinced that within our spirits joy will dance as a good servant monitored by a demanding master.
far from being a season of stillness paralleling the dormancy of Mother Earth as she gives herself to the embrace of fallen leaves or fog or snow— far from being a season of reflection in which we ponder songs of angels, welcome a promise of good news, allow ourselves to look at the birth of a baby embodying hope—
we have been lured by more brighter shinier louder missing the melody that quiets the soul, unable to catch the cadence of calm, too weary for wonder, too fragmented to hear the whisper of stars that bid us wander.
come, see, hear—
in the longest night your eyes will see brilliance, your mind will recover, your spirit will become still enough to know that the Divine truly does live among us.
how i miss you though our paths crossed all too briefly after years of individual pursuits.
you had gone your way; i mine. how much i lost, oblivious to the possibility that time was not limitless.
we were robbed of the window into the soul where memories are exchanged, wispy clouds that dreams are made or caught, no invitation to search each other’s eyes for glimmers of truth.
your words were silken— each flowing syllable filled with curiosity, celebration, vibrancy. they were soothing as salve, even when life’s hallelujahs were broken.
was life as effortless as the enticing dishes you prepared with seeming ease day after day?
was the whimsical smile that blessed your friends and sons and wee ones as carefree as we thought?
what were the fractures you hid so well— those cracks that let the light in? might they have become exquisite golden veins—even more luminous in their repair?
did you sense the frailty, the finality as you watched frosty breath plume before you while capturing shimmering hues at sunrise that brooding, crisp morning?
should we have known, were there signs, could we have beckoned— each from our distant places on this troubled globe?
we cannot know now— how could we have then?
we are among those left to carry on— reluctantly remaining here— each of us given the task of picking up one small shard of jagged, gleaming glass which casts light upon the path that could still feel your footsteps, had you not left us too soon.
On my recent travels I had the opportunity to hear many stories. Some were frustrated stories, others joyful, yet others wistful, recalling another time in life.
Every person has a home; every person has a story. The universality of home is not defined by the structure in which we live or do not live. The universality of story isn’t confined to those narratives that are broadly known or frequently shared.
Home and story are carried inside each human—sometimes explored and celebrated; sometimes troubled and buried.
We cannot truly find the embrace of home until our story is heard and honored. The opportunity to talk about some area of our life, whether it’s a current snippet, a memory from our past, or an overarching theme, offers a place to belong. Home is belonging.
When we take time to listen without judgment, with patience, suppressing outrage and resisting the urge to offer advice, we give the gift of home to another person.
Let’s offer an extravagant welcome to stories of home.
when the air dissolves asphalt and scorches thick ranges and pastures, when turbulent winds topple ancient structures and uproot majestic forests?
“Yes, rest,” they repeat.
when children are gunned down in classrooms, on playgrounds on family outings at parades in shopping malls in neighborhoods— collateral damage inexplicably deemed legitimate in the name of freedom in an unfree world.
how can we rest?
our hearts beat erratically, pumping too much blood through pulsing veins, lungs shriveling from shallow breaths, thoughts crumbling into meaningless fragments.
where is there rest?
nothing is serene as the face of an empire grows menacing and maniacal.
“Yes, rest,” the sages urge.
the mantra feels hollow out of step—as if lodged in another time altogether. this is no time for rest. we cannot let go close our eyes clasp our hands in our laps; we will not survive if we do.
“You will be lost if you do not.”
rest is not withdrawal detachment retreat. rest is CPR for the soul a transfusion for the senses, inebriation for the spirit.
bow at the shrine of the full belly laugh, the deep throated song, the exuberant dance. stride through groves and gardens, throw wide the gates, lighten your gait.
let the smile of the heavens chisel new contours into your face. wrap yourself in the rainbow instead of garments of gray.
rest is fuel. rest is hope. rest is the elixir for the human journey— with no cost no expiration date not subject to inflation.
“you don’t dare ask them about their position or their family’s activities during the war.
“don’t make them uncomfortable.”
so i didn’t ask, skirted every possible reference to anything during the dark regime that horrified the world.
but they talked about it— their people’s place in one of history’s darkest hours— their words ricocheted through cafés over rounds of beer after movies at concert intermissions on public transportation carefully crafted into prominent newspaper articles.
their confessions were woven into middle school civics discussions and field trips, included in museum exhibit labels, highlighted as tourists gawked from double-decker buses.
they lectured, performed and addressed, authored, painted and carved, planted commemorative gardens and built granite memorials.
they refused to be silenced; the world would never tolerate amnesia. they were not comfortable.
no one was.
this is the price we must pay for the common good, learning from history and refusing to allow malevolent players to stifle dictate and adjudicate speech, suffocating independent voices while requiring rote repetition of propaganda to bolster their fragile egos.
when they say, don’t ask— ask. when they demand, don’t mention it— speak it loudly when they chide, it’s inappropriate— defy propriety.
when they wring their hands urging: we can’t make ourselves or our children uncomfortable with uncomfortable histories, with human identities that make us squirm, with candid admission of a hatred so deep that it’s enshrined in our nation’s founding documents.
when they regurgitate pious platitudes clucking their tongues, warning this is not the time, to call out this nation’s immoral obsession with violence,
call out hypocrisy, unholy alliances, addiction to power, privilege, prestige. prioritize human life.
name names! call foul! promote discomfort! dissent defiantly! say all those things that lie crumbled on a deathbed alongside banned works of art, candid story-telling, invaded privacy, curtailed human rights and freedom of speech.
for we do not want to circle over bloody footprints of those who’ve left a stain on history before our time. we refuse to allow comfort for those grasping for control who threaten to tie us to the gurney so they can inject lethal cocktails for the promotion of minority rule.
dissent with your words your art your body your finances your votes your prayers your presence taking up space your unrelenting vigilance.