It seemed like a great idea. Honor those killed by acts of vengeance and terrorism, fanatical belief systems gone terribly wrong that resulted in the deaths of innocents by being silent. This blog went dark out of respect for lives lost and lives being rebuilt, either by injury or intense loss. In the past three weeks, several hundred have died senselessly. The same number has been killed by natural disasters around the world. If I am ever to finish this series on making this Ordinary Time of Pentecost extraordinary, I am going to have to stop being silent.
Silence is sometimes seen as a bad thing. Children who appear quiet are often put into therapy because it is believed they are autistic. Autistic beings are not just quiet and not everyone who is has trouble relating to the world. IN the past being an introvert was seen as being scared. The definition of an introvert now includes someone whose sense of self is perhaps more complete than an extrovert. Today we realize that an introvert simply does not need people for self-fulfillment as much as the extrovert. However, we do all need each other.
Being silent has its advantages. There are times, though, when it can lead to more death and destruction. If someone sees a raging river, it is helpful that they report the rise in the water level so that areas downstream can properly prepare. If someone spots a funnel cloud, a warning needs to sound so that people can take precautions and save lives. The same is true for politics and religion. Both have been hijacked historically and while it may be unpleasant and time-consuming to sift through the rhetoric, it is imperative that we do so.
For this reason, and because I believe in doing good, I am changing my own policy. Instead of keeping a respectful silence, we will continue our discussion of doing good even in terms of tragedy. One life lost is a loss for all of us. The entity we call mankind is one large being and when we lose a part, we all suffer. We will never hear the songs one of the dead might have sung or written or played. We will never taste the delectable morsels a chef washed away by flood waters in India might have cooked or see the advancements in science another might have made. Those things will wait for yet another day.
Today is our time to speak up and, at the same time, give ourselves some quiet time to reconnect. The most important thing we will ever do is centered on how we treat people. What we do is based on what we believe we can do. Before we attempt anything we must first believe on some level that it is possible and that we can achieve it.
When we feel good about ourselves, we feel powerful and capable. The explorer is willing to begin the journey because he/she feels he/she can survive the trip. A scientist is willing to work the experiment, regardless of the time it takes, because he/she understands the process. The carpenter understands the wood and his/her tools so there is confidence in turning a block of wood into a work of artistry.
We must reach out to our neighbors and hope to “touch” them for good. That touch can be figurative in offering support or literal in providing something necessary like comfort or food or items necessary for life. We do not fully live until we are fully engaged in living and that includes others. This is why we must take the ordinary minutes of a day and create something extraordinary from them.
In a world full of enemies, our biggest enemy is doubt. Doubt is often merely over-thinking and becomes an enemy that manifests itself as worry. Doubt is not a new human condition. The oldest of texts prove this fact. Buddha offered advice about it: “There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.”
Make some quiet time for yourself today to simply be. I hope it will lead to some mediation but first, just simply breathe. Breathing can be a gift in and of itself, although we usually do it automatically. Then think of a pleasant memory. Perhaps it will be an evening at a ball game sitting in the stands while you favorite team wins a championship. Certainly this past week those in Germany felt that as their teams advanced to the semi-finals in soccer’s World Cup. Then think of your proudest creative moment – baking a soufflé that didn’t fall, creating a card you shared with others, crocheting a shawl for a neighbor.
Those same happy times can become even more extraordinary when you share them. Just as we shared grief these last few weeks, we can share goodness. Bake something for a shelter that feeds the poor and homeless. Buy cans of food and nonperishables and donate them to a food pantry. If possible buy double when purchasing your own staples but even if it is only one can, that one cane can mean everything to someone who is hungry. You can make a shawl or blanket for someone who needs clothing or perhaps to be minded that they are not forgotten.
Send a thank you card to someone, simply for their presence in your life. One of the hardest things we do is accepting gratitude. Give yourself a thank you by celebrating some quiet time and yourself. As we have seen in these past several weeks, life is a gift that is not guaranteed for all. Then after experiencing the benefits of your quiet time, speak out. Help those who need it and you will discover you are helping yourself, showing gratitude that you are still alive. The time is now for being quiet and then taking action.