Maybe when my husband and I get old, memories of his life with Robin will become even more vivid than our years together. If so, I hope I’ll welcome those memories. I’m grateful to Robin, not jealous (even if she left it to me to convince our joint husband that the laundry hamper was invented for a reason). I knew my husband for only four months before we got married. But I heard from others how protective, tender, and devoted he was to her. Because of their relationship, I knew that this was a man who could be trusted, who stayed, for better or worse. I also knew that it’s possible to have more than one love of your life. I am the love of his, and so was she.
The shooting of nineteen innocent people, including two children, at a Mother’s Day celebration in New Orleans yesterday was an act of violence only gaudy enough to hold the nation’s attention momentarily. Shortly after the bodies were cleared, the FBI said they “have no indication the shooting was an act of terrorism. ‘It’s strictly an act of street violence in New Orleans.’” At that, we were free to let our attention drift. In America, all villainy is not created equal.
In this age when the “spiritual but not religious” seem to have more relevance than churchgoers, it’s easy to wonder why church attendance matters at all. But I believe that we need common spaces, more grounded than the corner Starbucks, to discern right actions in a world faced with crises like climate change and stark economic disparities.
And that’s the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn’t always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn’t even something — it’s nothing. And you can’t combat nothing. You can’t fill it up. You can’t cover it. It’s just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.
It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.
The problem might not even have a solution. But you aren’t necessarily looking for solutions. You’re maybe just looking for someone to say “sorry about how dead your fish are” or “wow, those are super dead. I still like you, though.”
We can’t be everything to everyone. But we will be something to everyone. We can choose to live in the generosity of God’s love or in the poverty of our limitations, and it matters what we choose.
So what if you can’t go out to coffee with her every week?
Go once. Listen. Ask questions.
Maybe you won’t end up sharing your deepest, darkest secrets with that couple in the lobby, but ask them about their kids. Remember their names. Write them down if you have to.
Look at the prom photos of her grandkids that she carries in her purse. Ask about his job and really listen when he talks about it. These small moments matter too.
In the end, there is a difference between nice and kind, and more and more I am convinced that “community” is not formed by telling everything to everybody but by these simple, strong threads of love.
And it’s both: we are limited, and we are not.
We are not Lego blocks, plastic and immovable. We give the last crust we have and trust God to make it enough.
We grow. We expand. We choose to take each other in.
What is would look like if we used American media’s shoddy analysis of foreign cultures and used them on US events:
DATELINE APRIL 21, 2013
IT HAS HAPPENED AGAIN, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
Yet another massacre has occurred in the historically war-torn region of the Southern United States – and so soon after the religious festival of Easter.
Brian McConkey, 27, a Christian fundamentalist militiaman living in the formerly occupied territory of Alabama, gunned down three men from an opposing tribe in the village square near Montgomery, the capitol, over a discussion that may have involved the rituals of the local football cult. In this region full of heavily-armed local warlords and radical Christian clerics, gun violence is part of the life of many.
Many of the militiamen here are ethnic Scots-Irish tribesmen, a famously indomitable mountain people who have killed civilized men – and each other – for centuries. It appears that the wars that started on the fields of Bannockburn and Stirling have come to America.
As the sun sets over the former Confederate States of America, one wonders – can peace ever come to this land?
There’s more to life than leaving home.
Inspired by the events of the past week, here’s a handy guide for anyone looking to figure out what exactly is going on during a breaking news event.
When you first hear about a big story in progress, run to your television. Make sure it’s securely turned off.
Next, pull out your phone, delete your Twitter app, shut off your email, and perhaps cancel your service plan. Unplug your PC.
Now go outside and take a walk for an hour or two. Maybe find a park and sit on a bench, reading an old novel. Winter is just half a year away—have you started cleaning out your rain gutters? This might be a good time to start. Whatever you do, remember to stay hydrated. Have a sensible dinner. Get a good night’s rest. In the morning, don’t rush out of bed. Take in the birdsong. Brew a pot of coffee.
Finally, load up your favorite newspaper’s home page. Spend about 10 minutes reading a couple of in-depth news stories about the events of the day. And that’s it: You’ve now caught up with all your friends who spent the past day and a half going out of their minds following cable and Twitter. In fact, you’re now better informed than they are, because during your self-imposed exile from the news, you didn’t stumble into the many cul-de-sacs and dark alleys of misinformation that consumed their lives. You’re less frazzled, better rested, and your rain gutters are clear.
Breaking news is broken.
- Farhad Manjoo, “Breaking News Is Broken”
|—||David Lose, “Is God Pissed Off At You? A Good Friday Reflection”|