Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday's Words for May 25, 2011

My heart goes out to the people of Joplin, Missouri, and to all the people who, over this very tumultuous spring, have endured hardship, displacement, and the loss of homes and loved ones.

How do we make sense of the senseless?

In my life when things have gone wrong, when there’ve been losses, or tragedies, after the shock has worn off, I try to step back and find some sort of value in the loss. It’s not easy, but it does help me to cope.

I put myself into the frame of mind that all things are transitory, and that taking something negative and doing something positive with it is the ultimate victory.

This year, there have been so many instances of floods, fires, tornadoes and earthquakes—so many occasions where nature has proven to us, time and again, that she’s a powerful bitch not to be messed with. When you sit back and think of the number and magnitude of the natural disasters hitting humanity just this year so far, it’s devastating.

No wonder so many people so easily believed the End of Days was near.

That sense isn’t unique to here and now. There have been other times in our history when people likely felt the future looked just as bleak. Consider what it must have been like to be alive in 1918. The Great War was finally ending, the bloodiest and most devastating war in the history of man to that point. And then, young, healthy adults became ill, and died, of the Spanish flu. Some would go to bed healthy, and never wake up. By the time this great pandemic was over in 1920, between 40 and 50 million people had died.

I’m sure there were many then who believed they were reaching the End of Days, too.
We, who bear witness to the destruction that our friends and neighbors are forced to endure can help. We can donate money, clothing, and food. We can ensure that our local, state, and federal governments and agencies do not drag their heels in setting things to rights.

We can take time to appreciate all that we have, and at the same time recognize how capricious fate can be. I’m certain that most of those families whose homes were destroyed Sunday evening spent the hours before following their usual routines, making plans for the week to come, and never once considered that in such a brief period of time, everything they had would be gone forever.

Total loss of the things we collect, the things that help us define our lives is bad enough, and hard enough to bear; but it’s really nothing when compared to the loss of people.

Sometimes you just can’t fully recover from the sudden, senseless death of a loved one, of a parent, or spouse, of a sibling or a child.

If you have friends and family who’ve suffered the brunt of Mother Nature’s fury this year, do not lose patience with them if they seem unresponsive to your efforts to assist and cheer them. Truly, there are no words to comfort those whose entire existence has been uprooted, whose family or friends have been torn so brutally from their lives.

Healing and recovery will take time, donations, and a constancy of care and love.


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