It snowed and snowed, the whole world over, Snow swept the world from end to end. A candle burned on the table; A candle burned. Boris Pasternak
Not snow, but smoke, ash, bodies, buildings falling. Lives suddenly taken and after candles were lit. Hands reached out, humankind’s better side worked to master the horror produced by what hatred of the other created. That spirit of caring needs to burn again.
I worked for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York City, before, during and after 9/11; I directed mental health crisis teams. Being there and being able to act allowed me to survive emotionally. The others reaching out, trying to help were candles in the darkness and their light were blessings in the dark.
I know very few who did not light one candle or another on that day and the days that followed. Partly, we responded because television took us there. We saw the horror. We saw ourselves in the victims as we do when nature makes the earth move, volcano erupt, waves mount, water rise, tornadoes swirl, winds rage or mountains of snow fall. Acts of nature call us out against a common threat.
We respond less quickly when humans turn on each other which seems the case now. Too many of us are busing ourselves with trivial amusements while the world grows darker. I expected when I did my social media thing this day, to see recognition of 9/11 trending. Instead nothing. Nada. Not on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Apparently remembering 9/11 has become passé.
When I posted a picture from 9/11 on my status, only two people acknowledged the picture and yes, I am small potatoes in terms of followers, and I know more will in time respond. But I also know if I had put up a joke, 10 or 11 people would have liked it. A really good joke and I might get 30 likes.
When I went to see what the Word Press Daily Post was prompting its followers to write about on 9/11, here is what I found: Daily Prompt 9/11/2014 – “Voice Work: Your blog is about to be recorded into an audiobook. If you could choose anyone — from your grandma to Samuel L. Jackson — to narrate your posts, who would it be?”
My heart sank and for a while, all I could say in my head was “Vanity, vanity. Worship of the idoltry of self. ”
However, as Emily Dickenson noted, “Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul / And sings the tune without the words / And never stops – at all.”
The song I keep trying to hear is that in time enough will light candles for all in the dark. I fear it will take a time of greater darkness for that to happen.
Ralph Waldo Emerson noted ”Faith and love are apt to be spasmodic in the best minds. Men live the brink of mysteries and harmonies into which they never enter, and with their hands on the door-latch they die outside.”
And believe me, I know the urge to keep my eyes on what lifts my heart in the moment. Laugh and play is an important way to keep moving forward for. I indulge in all I can that makes me feel good and does no harm to others. No one can stay emotionally strong on a constant diet of despair.
However, we must also remember what matters. As Albert Einstein reminded us, “A human being is part of the whole called by us universe , a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty… We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”
Much is made of the fact that suffering can lead to transformation and to a new manner of thought. Transformation, however, is not always toward the light. Which is why I believe with all my heart, every person does the best he can with what he or she has been given. For far too many, the fruits of their lives are full of bitterness and in time leads them to evil acts. Their free will is limited, but they are few compared to many who have been given much.
I know I have been given more than most. Knowing that, I work to send light to those I meet. And while, I cannot do as much as others, but I can do something. I can light candles. So can you can.
Perhaps if a enough candles burn we will better see and be more willing to follow the path that leads to peace.
As always thank you for all you do and continue to care and share.