We all hurt right now. Our whole world grieves the loss of what once was. The present turmoil and divisiveness weigh us down. Each of us is struggling.
But what of the children? How are they doing? How will they remember this time?
They look to us to keep them safe, to care for them, to put their needs first. They don’t understand the greater turmoil. They see, keenly, what is right in front of them. What is that?
While we may not have a ton of control over world events, we do have control over how we treat the littlest among us. Consider the profound effect your words and actions have on children just starting to be introduced to the world. Temper your anger, your frustration, your dismay. There is no harm in having a full range of emotions, and teaching children that they, too, will be subject to sadness and disappointment, frustration and anger, bewilderment and helplessness as they age. But never let them forget that you love them and are with them and that you will stay in their corners come what may.
Patience is tough. But even in the most aggravating times of waiting, nature keeps going and sends us messages of hope. Dead looking trees budding, flowers blossoming, birds singing and looking for places to build their nests. Warmth seeping back into the frigid ground.
Please take a moment to watch Father Ray Kelly sing Everybody Hurts and remember that we need to reach out to each other. We are each other’s comfort and hope.
When your day is long And the night The night is yours alone When you’re sure you’ve had enough Of this life Well hang on Don’t let yourself go ‘Cause everybody cries And everybody hurts sometimes
Sometimes everything is wrong Now it’s time to sing along When your day is night alone (hold on) (Hold on) if you feel like letting go (hold on) If you think you’ve had too much Of this life Well, hang on
Cause everybody hurts Take comfort in your friends Everybody hurts Don’t throw your hand Oh, no Don’t throw your hand If you feel like you’re alone No, no, no, you’re not alone
If you’re on your own In this life The days and nights are long When you think you’ve had too much Of this life To hang on
Well, everybody hurts sometimes Everybody cries And everybody hurts sometimes And everybody hurts sometimes So, hold on, hold on Hold on, hold on Hold on, hold on Hold on, hold on
In his letter to the early church at Corinth, Paul sets out how love shows up in the world in his effort to help them get along. It is a frequent text for weddings:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.
To those about to marry, an interesting exercise is to substitute the name of your beloved each time the word ‘Love’ appears. And an even more interesting exercise, for all of us, is to substitute our own names instead of the word ‘love’:
I am patient and kind; I do not envy or boast; I am not arrogant or rude. I do not insist on my own way; I am not irritable or resentful….
How did you do? For many of us, this simple recitation shows us the exact ways and times we are being less than loving and calls us to consider those actions. Must we insist on our own way? How do we know what is right? Isn’t it possible that someone else may be right, too? Are we becoming impatient with others? Can we take a minute to rein ourselves in, breathe deeply, and begin again? Are we holding grudges? Can we let the past go and try to make our present the best possible? And so on.
These checks we can do to measure our progress and monitor our moods against the ideal of love can be very helpful to keep us on track showing up in this world as close to lovingly as we can get.
Are you overwhelmed? Sometimes our To Do lists are so long, the tasks too complex or difficult, the road ahead too winding, that we get paralyzed. We freeze not sure which way to turn or what to do. Sometimes that leads us to choose doing nothing at all.
Try this instead: ask yourself “What’s next?” and then sit quietly. Breathe deeply. Listen. Be patient.
We don’t have to see the whole path. We don’t have to know the answers to all life’s questions. We may never be able to see more than one dimly lit footstep ahead.
But sometimes when we are harried, we can see the next step, and then the next, one at a time leading us forward out of being stuck and onto the next thing. One foot in front of another, forward. Try to let the uncertain or overwhelming future move to the fringe of your imagination and focus on just that one step.
What is worth fighting for? Sometimes a battle is won in a courageous show of strength and derring do. A fireman runs into a burning building to save a child. A passerby stops to help victims of an accident. A pilot steers a damaged plane to safety.
But sometimes the battle requires showing up time after time with love, kindness, and patience. Not giving up on someone. Having faith that love will win. Believing that relationships can be salvaged.