We all know that certain times and events come into the lives of our families and ourselves, that force us to ponder the issue of Justice. We start as children with the innate understanding of “fair” and it does not subside until we pass. You have heard or have said the words, “That’s not fair!”…. Sometimes with tears and loud exclamations of anger. Occasionally the words will just be words and the solution can be found simply. Other times the answer is never known. When these come in succeeding waves of the unknown point, the missing “why”, we get to the place of crying out in the darkness. This is real and if you have been spared then I am glad for you.
Most of us have stepped into these waters. We feel the coolness of the water and constrict at the knowing. Perhaps the magnitude is yet to be revealed but we know it in it’s current form and can guess at the way it will develop. But perhaps we will guess wrong about the speed or the impact, or the ripples in the lives of our friends and companions, and perhaps even strangers. All you have to do is remember the collective grief at the first awareness of the death of Lady Diana, or someone else that catches you off guard. The outpouring was larger than you might have thought, even though it was not personally affecting you. But what of the day that it is. Close, personal, deep, and the waves keep pounding. The tide comes in and the undertow is a thing, as it retreats to prepare to roll again over you. These are that which you have heard stories of, but now face. Perhaps alone, but certainly in a manner that only you will know.
When my father passed, I was but an infant. To me the impact would come later when the absence was not satiated. To my family that was older, and to the extended parts, the impact and shock were stories that were specific to each. The collective group was on this same beach but in separate places and in differing depths of pain. And the waves continued to roll. There comes a time of processing this level of grief that there is a moment of transformation. It is specific to each and comes individually in time and strength, but come it will. The willingness to receive it is optional, and to what degree is also a choice, but the need is still present. It comes in many forms, but always as a friend. Some bring the shield and the sword as defender, and some will bring the warm blanket a cup of coffee. But come they will.
Some are strangers, that have walked a similar road and know the signs of the tale that you have been told. While their own story is unique, the concussion and the shock and the need for a defender and comforter is the same. The time needed to sit by the fire until the story of the violation and injustice of it all can be spoken is specific to the teller of the tale, but the story wants to be told. This one, or a few that come are as varied as the ones in my family that were in specific places when the news was told. Some come only for the day, to wish you well. Some stay for a while and may shine your shoes, for the event you know is coming. Others will simply walk in the door and start to cry as they embrace you fully… You know who this is in your world… so you will cry with them. Real tears and body convulsing sobs. These, the ones with no words, are ones that have had such sorrows in their own journey. They are simply farther down this same familiar path. They know the smell and the colors along the way.
This is a place that you come to unwilling and reluctantly, but they came at the call. They may have been told by another, but they come. Without even a thought, save perhaps the need to bring tissue or not, but the car is moving at the same level of the pain. These, the first responders, are the paramedics of your soul. The assessment of the damage and the wounds and the needs coming up. The need to solve the worlds disaster will usually involve food, so they arrange the meals that come and the group that will sit with you and those that will call. These, the ones that have the limp and the story that comes with it, they understand the gentle and the prod and the time that is needed to simply recover. Long before the wound has stopped oozing and the healing has begun, they come.
Here is an interesting point in this tale. They would not have come without the pain. Their lives were busy before your story was told to them. Their lives will be busy after you are better. In the meantime, their lives were changed at the news of your life being changed. You may be surprised by who it is and the magnitude of their gift. It matches the place on the beach that is different for each of the ones that stand there with you. Not all feel the undertow, and not all are overwhelmed by the next wave, which is not the last wave. So too, some that come are good for the ones that are closer to the beach and the one you need has yet to arrive, but know this, there will be one that comes, perhaps with a delay. The reality of a comfortable life with little parties on the beach of small waves has been spared you. You are now a person of merit that has been given the gift of a story. The story of a person that had friends that came in a time of need. This is a gift of immense value.
There are times and friends that we would wish and pray that the cancer would be healed, and the tornado would not hit, but I say that while death and destruction comes, so do the friends. It can be strangers and it can be relatives, but they only come because there is a need. A need to give and a need that the gift be received graciously. So, this is your part. To do the receiving well. Don’t be short in the allowance of others to give. It is the return gift to one that gave when you were in need. You let them, and the fact that it is hard is part of the healing. You would not have been humbled had you not been hurt.
I will explain how. The description of God is that of pure Love. Think of this love flowing like a river and you get the idea. Parts of the river have the general characteristics of many rivers, so there are deep parts, slow parts, wide and shallow and rapids and more. So too, when you walk with the current your journey is swift and easy. When you paddle against the current there is struggle and strain. You can go across the stream and it is not too bad but you end up downstream some bit from where you started. All of that to say this; when you are doing gracious acts of love you are most in tune to the God of Love, and as such given the reward of that gift you have been giving. The awareness that this gift is from the giver of that which is most desired, the one that Loves you. You feel “good” when you give of these gifts. Your life has a harmony and vibrance to it, even with the tears and the snot of another soul weeping on your shoulder. You know that all is right in the world, even as the pain is being poured out in these tears.
All of this is that which is known by those that have had great sorrows and much struggle. All of this is known by those that have had the dreams of their youth and the hopes of their lives consumed in a manner deemed “unjust” at the time. Now, with the passage of time and the need to heal, for helping is a path to healing, they can be the gift of grace and strength, that was perhaps delayed in their own walk, to one that is in need today. There are many that have stories such as this, great and untold. Stories I have been given the gift of hearing and the giving of the space and the permission for the story to have room to walk around a bit, and to see that the flowers still bloom. This is the place that is needed later. After the rescue and the trauma has subsided, and the heat is a bit less. After the violation and injustice have had the edge dulled with time. It is but one option. You can swim upstream with the branch of revenge in your mouth and the justification in your heart. Swimming strongly with the intent to extract that justice for the wrongs you have suffered. The irony is that you miss the chance to help others along the way when you swim upstream. All you get is tired, but not relief.
I will end and not meddle, but you know that feeling of revenge desired, so do I. As well, I know the redemption of the gift of the one with the tears and snot on my shoulder, from one that needed the time and permission to weep. I have moved the boxes and packed up the pieces of the broken dreams. I have seen the distance in the eyes of the concussed. I have been the one without words, but also, I have been the one that has caused the pain. I have pretended to care when I didn’t and to help only as an obligation, not from a place of love and grace. I know all of those parts as well. I would like to do better when next the call comes. So, with the hope of knowing it can be a gift given as well as received, I will go. I hope to see you there as well. I hope you don’t ask for a life of “no problems”, for that is a life of untested friends. I hope your friends have moments that will test you in return. That is when the platinum friend in you will come to the fore. And you will know of that moment in the river when you will flow as the love flows. Strongly, and with purpose.
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