Had not driven very far this evening in the Dodge, me being the sole occupant of the vehicle (so Sirius Satellite Channel 113 was my friend and faithful time-passer)…when CNN alerted me to the fact that a 100-year-old gentleman and his beloved, Sara, at 98, had been burned to death in California’s wildfires. Oh my heart. I cannot imagine surviving WWII only to die such a horrific death upon marking a century of living. Can not imagine the pain of that dear family tonight- their children and grandchildren and greats. Their little ones. But sadly this was the way their story had been written. Such was the way life would unfold for Charles and his dear One.
Then. Following this…
Turned on the computer this evening to find yet another catastrophe had occurred. A nineteen-year old student in Texas, murderous in his impulsive actions, now faces a life of bondage and slavery to his thoughtless intentions. And a family is now brutally struck with the harsh reality: they are without their father this night and for all the nights that will ever come after this one.
What in the world? How does this kind of thing happen? And what does this brave man’s wife and two precious daughters do/say/think/face when confronted with this horrendous news?
It doesn’t matter when we tune in or turn on the connection we have with the outside world: what we can know for sure is this- we will hear bad news. We will see ghastly things. We will witness the unfolding of the horror. Something awful will have happened. Something tragic will be occurring.
And this is not even the half of it all, as we all know (just follow twitter for an hour and resolve to keep a calm demeanor- nearly impossible).
Turning inward can serve to muffle the noise. Briefly. But it really never eliminates the sounds. There is always background interference. Always things internal that stress, annoy, bother and frustrate. This is the way of life: we can never find peaceful nirvana here on earth. Bliss is temporary this side of Heaven.
But something we can do is substitute.
When tragedy strikes, we can become immobile. Or we can mobilize.
We can become stationary. Or we can respond.
We can become shell-shocked. Or we can move to action.
We can substitute fear for courage, safety for valour, and complacency for humility.
These beautiful words to contemplate as I embrace the rest of this quiet evening:
“What we call despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.” – George Eliot
So then, there is always something we can do to cultivate hope. We can feed it, at the very least. We can feed our smallest glimmer of hope, the tiniest of shards that rest in quiet, somber places and the stillest of moments, finding settlement, and doing so with nourishment enough to feed the soul and its longing for hope. When the news channels disappoint (as they so often will), find comfort in the real-life people you call your family. Love them well. Find comfort in friends. Treat them with respect and kindness. Find hope in ancient Scriptures. In good reads. In homemade biscuits and freezer jam. In all that is good and wholesome and true and pure.
Offer this comfort to others. Feed their souls and bodies as well as your own. Do this in the name of Love.
Do this in the memory of Charles and Sara.
And realize: the antidote to despair is hope.
But we must feed it well if we want it to grow.