Warning: This post contains one swear word and much sadness. If you are uncomfortable with either swears or sadness, you may want to sit down and drink a glass of water before proceeding.
Three stories out of six that broke my heart this week:
Yesterday afternoon as I was walking through our local market, I caught two teenage boys snickering at a little girl with Down's Syndrome. They were embarrassed. They didn't know how to accept anomaly, and so they laughed. I understood them--their youth, their discomfort--and yet I hated them in that moment. I wanted to push them into a pool of puke and dog shit and say without a trace of irony, "Who's laughing now?!"
On the Fourth of July, as I was driving home from Provo, I turned on my ipod and listened to the story of an Iraqi man who had worked as an ally for US forces during the war, only to be left behind in the Middle East, unprotected from those who might target him as a traitor. For one year he sent letters to the U.S. government pleading for help, begging for refuge for his family. The only responses he received came from an automated email system. After a year of desperate attempts to seek asylum, Al-Qaeda caught up with this man, took him behind his home, and decapitated him while his family waited within. I cried for hours afterwards, heaving at the thought that my celebrated America would use a man and then leave him to die.
Daily, I read about women the world over who are routinely raped by strangers, employers, boyfriends, and even husbands. Women who are shamed and sexualized. Women who are sold into slavery and others who are brutally sliced in the name of tradition. It is impossible for me not to internalize these stories as I am a woman. I am each of these women. We all are.
I know every moment offers up breath and beauty to those who are attune, but there are times when the smog is thick and the celestial is obscured from my view. Sometimes I feel like every cell in my body will explode from the pressure of ballooning and monstrous toxins--literal and spiritual. How does anyone even half awake to injustice keep from shattering into a million jagged shards? If this is an agony so intense that God himself bled from every pore, how do we mere mortals even stand a chance?
The only thing I know to do is cling.
I cling to opposition, believing that this life's dense and viscous evil is mercifully counterbalanced with an equal measure of pure and giddy Spirit.
I cling to prayer, believing that the energy I send into God's heart will find its way into the homes and coat pockets and memories and conversations of those who need it most.
I cling to my own power, believing that God gave me gifts and a voice and hands that are to be used for healing both the fresh and old wounds I encounter.
I cling to others' power, believing that God gave them gifts and voices and hands that heal both the fresh and the old wounds they encounter.
I cling to the atonement, believing that its golden thread will mend the torn pieces and all will be restored, justified, and sanctified in the final chapter of this earthly narrative.
Perhaps this is the design. Darkness compels us to cling. To each other. To our families, our friends. To those who suffer. To God. To everything we believe to be good and true. What else can we do but hold to each other with such ferocity and passion that we become bound through the eternities? What else can we do but grasp at love in all of its articulations?
This is all I know to do right now. Just this. To cling.