Vigil

I have so much to say. And yet so little. Words don’t measure up. They take flight, like birds lifting off a wire; the score of their song like a smudge of ink, a blur of notes across the treble clef of lines.
 
Here is what I know: I was deeply, personally affected by the tragedy in Sandy Hook. I was affected in ways I can hardly put words around. As I heard the news, I was there, body memory replaying detail (look back through the archives; it’s all there). And also: I interviewed at Sandy Hook the year I graduated from college. It was my first job offer in fact, though I passed it up, eager to work in a charter school with inner city kids. Still, I remember the art on the walls. The freckled face of a red-headed boy; the blonde pigtails of a small girl.

And then I found that one of my friends (one of the first of my friends to have children after I did) lost her nephew in the tragedy. A chubby, bright-faced boy with a smile so infectious I’d catch myself often grinning back at him, in the photos she would post on Facebook, of her son and his cousin: arm wrestling, jumping in the pool, tucking in to candy on Easter, or sitting together on the back stoop.

It’s been so personal, so utterly heartbreaking, that I’ve been unable to gather words in any adequate way. I’ve been moved by so many posts flitting around the Internt. And I have so much compassion, and so much simultaneous rage. Mental health. Hours of brutal video games. Gun control. There are dots, like terrible constellations to connect.

I saw first hand the way the system fails: the way the boys (and sometimes the girls too) who need the most help, are almost always met with isolation and medication and discipline that is reactive and restrictive instead of healing and supportive. Families fragment. Things fall apart. The center doesn’t hold.

Here we are.

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I am breathing. I am looking out at the rain soaked grass and letting the raindrops and the grass blades and the dozens of wind-tossed birds be my prayer. I am letting my prayer be the familiarity of ordinary things, and the way these things reclaim us, every one: pulling on socks, fart jokes, the dishes, sticky lollypops. The prayer of ordinary things. That is what I am holding in the quiet of my heart for the families who lost their loved ones; their children, their sweet babes, their mentors, teachers, friends, lovers, daughters, wives.

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I’ve been gathering this quiet, and holding it, while trying to still hold close my commitment to self care: to cultivating habits that hold, even when things fall apart.

I’ve been running daily, and writing morning pages scribbled in script with a ball point pen.