That place of “not-knowing” that I spoke of yesterday still holds me today as I think of the storm called Harvey that just won’t quit. How do people recover from that kind of devastation – both environmental and human? Even here, at almost the farthest northern point in our country away from those swirling waters and broken lives, I feel viscerally the distress and death. Physical death, the death of dreams, of possessions – all must reside inside any of us who have even seen the images on television and more likely if we know people living in Texas – and today in Louisiana. I have rarely felt the draw of depression on such a scale.
Slogging through the images in my mind I try to focus on the concomitant pictures of and interviews with those who have come with their boats or their bodies, strong enough to contribute to the rescue of so many stranded inhabitants of the flood zones. And then I read a small snatch of something Rilke wrote that seems like a far-fetched thought to bring to the present conversation but is all I have to offer to my sadness.
You mustn’t be frightened, he writes, if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than you have ever seen; if an anxiety, like light and cloud-shadows, moves over your hands and over everything you do. You must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall.
Perhaps that sadness and anxiety is leading to a deeper ability to be compassionate, a deeper willingness for unity – knowing that we are all connected and owe each other our sharing in that pain of loss. I don’t know and so here I can only sit offering my “not-knowing.”