I am so angry, I am beyond furious. I am a volcano of rage.
Ineptitude. Stupidity. Ignorance. Deceit. Greed: They’re not just winning; they’ve won, I think. The losses, the drowning, the panic, the fear, the flood of tears…so many deaths due to a lack of foresight and a rejection of plans that had been in place. Such great willingness on the part of what passes, absurdly, for leadership to sacrifice the innocent for political gain.
I think: We cannot turn away. We cannot abandon those in the hospitals and those responding to calls for help, those meeting the hurricane of suffering, tending this one, the next, the overflowing, unending need of fellow humans, each distinct, each with a story ending. Now. Gasping for air, suffocating on their own fluids.
I must watch the reports, listen to the stories, stand with these heroes, suffering beside them, feeling all the fear, the chaos, the pain, the infinite demand of their energy as they seek, beyond human endurance, to stay focused on the one person before them, while their companions falter, drop, and die. I must share their helplessness. I must take responsibility for the inability to stem the tide of horror. I must not turn away. What right have I to rest when they cannot?
I do not know what to do with this rage and sadness…
And I am so ready to hate and to desire the obliteration of those whose ignorance has led us to this lack of preparation and ill-use of our intelligence, potential, and gifts. What we feared for years has happened, and there is no vindication.
And then I remember my mother, my darling Mama, sitting beside me, dying from the strain of heart failure and dialysis, after years of caring for my father following his own massive stroke. He had only recently died, and we hoped that now, in his release to peace, Mama would find some years of respite and joy, time to live without worry, to travel, visit friends and family, relax. But the years of stress had taken their toll on her health, as these things do, and now she faced her own death.
And so, we sat together one afternoon after dialysis had left her exhausted, and I upended and over-spilled. I railed and wept and told her how outraged I felt at the unfairness of this outcome. She didn’t deserve this.
And she turned to me, with such palpable kindness and love, and she assured me that my life would proceed and I would be O.K. Her faith, her set of beliefs, her long-lived years of sacrifice and loving had deepened her capacity to withstand and enter mystery. They had prepared her for dying with acceptance and peace.
She said–and I’ve never forgotten this–that I had no idea what events and circumstances awaited those of us who would survive her loss. We could not know what suffering, what terrors, what evil might sweep across our lives, or the world, or how they would require our endurance, our strength, our love, and our gifts. She said it would be necessary to heal and to prepare our hearts, minds, and spirits to meet the challenges in our own lives with the best we could offer rather than face challenges weakened by unhealed grief or the anger we could summon regarding life’s inherently perceived unfairness.
And here we all are. At the crisis point of our lives.
And I hear the echo of Mama’s words and think: I have to sacrifice my rage. I have to transform its energy into love and realize, once again, I’m being asked to stand by in the face of extraordinary suffering. I’m asked, again, to witness and support the hell faced by others: those in the hospitals and those at work in the world, while I remain in quarantine.
I have to let go of the hatred I feel for those who have allowed this horror to widen and deepen and accelerate beyond what might have happened. I have to remain in isolation, guard my health, turn off the words that incite unrelieved anger and grief, and prepare. I have to turn from the televised terror and re-balance. They also serve who only stand and wait, said Milton. Can I find the gift in my impotence?
I am not a doctor, or a nurse, or a scientist, or a respiratory therapist. Those with these gifts are following the unselfish consequences of choosing to honor the calls they came to share.
I have other gifts. My job is to see where they can lead, and to be willing to use them when they are needed, however I can help, at whatever cost. My job today is to witness, to love, to wait, to stay healthy, to shine light, to acknowledge loss and suffering, to grieve, to rage and to let go of rage and see how life will endure.
My job is to see that spring has come, that birds are singing, that green is returning, that light still shines, and to flash that back to the world and re-balance, even a little, the sorrow that could rob us of hope.
Many of us are at home, feeling powerless, but we’re not. We’re not. We can truly be “working from home.” We can hold in our hearts the memories of the greatness we’re witnessing all around the world. We can treasure and protect the promise of what we can become when the deep work of healing begins. We can consciously gestate the better creations we will offer the world when we are able to meet again and embrace, and the gifts we’ve fed are needed for nourishment.
We can begin learning how to surrender, how to transform hatred, grief, and anger into love.
And this is our work, and this is why we are here, and this is what we offer the world at its crisis point, and when the crisis passes.
M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written
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Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent
By: John Milton
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”