Sixteen months into the pandemic, I didn’t think I could be more overwhelmed with everything going on in our world.
Then came August. Clearly, I was wrong.
There is so much right now that seems fractured, broken, wounded. I look at the news and am astounded at the suffering of our fellow humans around the world. When my heart aches for the suffering of so many, so many who could’ve been me, I focus on my breath. My breath becomes the only prayer I can pray in those moments of grief.
I easily fall prey to obsessing over my own impotence in the face of such suffering. I can’t fix anything. I can’t make it so every refugee has a home and every person, including Afghan girls, have access to education. I can’t magically take away addictions or dissolve the pervasive racism of our world. I can’t stop the Delta variant or prevent people from yelling at pediatricians and teachers as they defend masks in schools while ICUs in some states have seen a dramatic increase in COVID patients.
I keep returning to this poem by Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things.”
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
It is times like these when I am most aware of my acute need for God, my profound need for justice and mercy, my need for the great healer. I can’t fix this. Only God can. Our only hope rests in God, in God working through each and every person to bring about the Kin-dom of God, where all are beloved, valuable, and seen, aware of how we are all a part of the same family.
It is easy to go numb, to turn our brains off in the face of unfathomable suffering. I challenge you, though, like Jesus, to not turn your eyes away, to not avoid the pain. Instead, look upon it with clear eyes, praying for the peace and justice only God can inspire, letting the spirit intercede for us all with sighs too deep for words.