In Search of Grace

It’s been a busy few weeks lately with more than the usual ups and downs, ins and outs, whethers or buts, what ifs and why nots.

I’ve been dealing with an amalgam of diverse issues, activities, and events ranging from the mundane to the weighty, the tedious to the tentative, the banal to the seemingly overwhelming and all the way back ’round again.

Some are of an ongoing nature; others are new, emotionally charged, complicated and demanding of resolution now. Still others are the irritating little pop-ups that we all encounter and could easily do without.

Add the complications of how and where to be over the holidays in light of some of the more pressing issues – no small feat in and of itself – with the litany of things to be done to actually celebrate Christmas and New Year and…

Well, you get the picture.

By the way, how’s that everloving to-do list going??

Yeah. I thought so. Let me get back to you on that.

Often when daily life becomes more complex, more challenging, more unnerving, we get the urge to write, create, share.

For me, that entails actively carving out private time for the fingers to fly across the keyboard; at the least it means greedily clinging to what little personal time I can muster these days.

Sometimes the creative spark flickers, buffeted by an unseen wind.

Sometimes we need to step back and recharge, all our emotional energies seemingly sapped by emergent priorities and everyday existence.

And sometimes external events conspire to stop us in our tracks.

It has been a mixture of all of the above, with an embarrassingly yawning chasm of time since I’d last posted. Friday I was all set to put that right.

And then, I wasn’t.

I couldn’t.

The thought of stoking the creative fires and forging something, anything, was unpalatable.

The truth is that after what occurred in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, no one could put it right. I’m not sure anyone ever will.

Ask the people of Dunblane, Scotland. All these years on, and everyone living there will tell you why people from around the world have heard of their little town. Ask tennis star Andy Murray, a proud Dunblane son, who can’t be interviewed without the topic coming up.

Or the Shandong, Shaanxi and Fujian Provinces of China where schoolchildren and their teachers were murdered by knife- and meat cleaver-wielding assailants.

Or Colombine, Aurora, Virginia Tech. The list goes on.

I’m not here today to write about these manmade events so horrific they bring to mind war zones, the latter with their own atrocities marked by the names of the places where they were perpetrated: Rwanda, Srebrenica, Auschwitz and Dachau among many. Far, far too many.

I’m not here to write about gun control, although I personally believe the United States – my United States – is in dire need of a comprehensive overhaul to the legislative framework governing the sale, ownership, access to and use of such weapons.

I’m not here to write about mental illness – although I have before and will again – except to say that I personally believe that significant improvements to the mental health system are and should be called for – no, demanded – by everyone.

Hating the perpetrators and placing blame on them is understandable, but it won’t help others from becoming future victims. It won’t help others from gaining access to weapons in the heat of passion or in their darkest moments, or while at their weakest, or frailest.

How could any of the aforementioned horrors occur and someone still not understand that societies which do not care for their most fragile citizens are letting down all of their citizens?

Not just in America, but in every country around the world. I’ve been to dozens of countries, and spent a lifetime getting to know about them and many, many more, and I can tell you the need elsewhere is just as great and in most instances much greater.

I’m not going to write about any of these issues. There’s plenty of time for that. Indeed, work has already begun, in the media, in constituencies, in communities and in the corridors of power.

The reason I haven’t written for the past four days? Because I needed time to take in, process and attempt to make some semblance of sense of Friday’s events.

I’ve succeeded with the first and second tasks. I doubt I’ll ever get there on the third.

I know that there were immediate cries for action on the part of many, multitudes of voices raised at the outset. Understandably so. I don’t fault them at all, it’s how they choose to deal with it all.

I didn’t – couldn’t – join them. Not out of weakness. For me it was just too early.

The cacaphony of outrage, anger, overwhelming sadness and raw unadulterated pain unleashed was deafening, and it has continued to grow as retorts fly and clarifications are lodged. It will serve its purpose, but there are no gold medals for being first to blog and post and tweet and share and comment.

When I thought of the children and those adults who gave their lives trying to protect them, I saw their family members and friends. I saw the parents, those grieving, bereft parents.

And I just couldn’t join in. Not yet.

Instead, I’ve been in search of stillness. Stillness of mind, stillness of heart, stillness of soul. Stillness that I imagine they themselves are sorely in need of.

I’m not alone in this. C.C. Chapman, author of Content Rules and the season’s inspirational bestseller Amazing Things Will Happen, wrote of this need for many to slow down.

‘You have to say something. You have to react. Or do you?…We each react differently. Some will scream solutions and then scream louder when someone suggests something different. People position, proclaim and pontificate as if sudden experts…Take it slow.’

And then I was reminded of Geoff Talbot’s recent Seven Sentences piece on Grace and Creativity.

It spoke to me.

It’s a long road ahead; more than anything, we need grace. Now more than ever.




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