Let not your heart be troubled.
What a wild week. From tornado wracked Oklahoma to the streets of London, I have not been able to wrap my head around the images on my TV screen. Sometimes you just have to turn away and say, no more. I can’t watch any more. But for the people involved, turning away is not an option.
Last Sunday I heard an interview on NPR (my favorite radio station, and yes, I am a supporter: I hope you are too!) with a man called Andrew Zolli. He described his study of the brain and the human spirit, the ability to bounce back after failure, after calamity, after tragedy. This resilience, he said, was the secret to the success of the human race.
There are examples all around us, starting with the most recent. Even as we turned away from the scenes of destruction in Oklahoma, there were amazing stories of heroism and survival. Again we are reminded that when we send our kids to school, there are amazing people known as ‘teachers’ who are willing to die for them if necessary. How many of us have that kind of work ethic? Is shielding kids from death and destruction in their job description? Can you put it on your resume?
In the unimaginable attack on the streets of London, a woman calmly confronted the man who was holding meat cleavers and covered in blood, and started to talk to him. She was able to distract him and prevent further violence by engaging him in conversation. By the way, I read that she was a teacher too! What is it with these teachers?
Beyond the immediate scenes of horror, there is a determination to get on with life, to get things back to normal and rebuild. This is the human spirit. Regardless of adversity, for the most part, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again. I am sure you can think of times in your life when it was tempting to just climb back into bed, pull the covers up over your head and try to blot out the world. Often it is our sense of responsibility to others that first gets us back on our feet. When tragedy strikes, parents put on a brave face to reassure their children, and sometimes it is the act of ‘faking it’ that not only gets them through the day, but actually helps the healing to begin.
Even as our heads reel from the thought of the randomness of nature, the fragility of life, and the way the carpet can be pulled out from under you without warning, we can rejoice in the strength and resilience of the human spirit. We can marvel at the ability of people to laugh in the face of disaster, for it is this ability to find humor in the darkest of moments that opens up the space for creativity and problem solving. By laughing at the loss of everything we make room for possibilities and new beginnings. Regret for what was, longing for the way things were, keeps you trapped in the ruins of an outdated life.
You may not be facing a house which has been reduced to mulch, belongings which have been scattered to the corners of the earth, but I am sure you have also faced failure or loss. I am sure you can recall a time when you have thought things were over. Yet you were able to emerge from it stronger than before. We are a resilient people, with talents that we have not even begun to explore.
This Friday morning I encourage you to dig a little deeper and look for the sparks that you have not yet discovered. Don’t wait for terror and mayhem to find the strength to do something wonderful and meaningful in your life. When faced with negative and awful images, look for the hint of color, the promise of new beginnings that will appear amidst the rubble.
The beginning of peace comes with an acceptance that bad things will happen, but pain and suffering comes from wishing it were not so. Death is a part of life, but so is birth. And in the cycles of birth and death we are assured that life goes on. And through it all, the human spirit looks for the spark of humor and hope that gives you the motivation to keep on keeping on.
On facebook this week I posted a link to a short video of hope about an impoverished community that has reclaimed musical instruments from a landfill. From the garbage they have created an orchestra and allowed children to experience the joy of performing together. When you watch this you realize we have no room to complain about our own lives. Resilience. It is all around you.
Have a wonderful Friday family! I am heading up to New York later to party with the CC family there. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!