When we weep….
April 16, 2013 4 Comments
“Weeping is not the same thing as crying, It takes your whole body to weep, and when it’s over, you feel like you don’t have any bones left to hold you up,” author Sarah Ockler wrote in Twenty Boy Summer. Today there are many people who know how this feels, to weep until your bones are weak. It is how we react to tragedies that seem to mar our Aprils.
Tragedies define specific days. And as Jim Heffernan (’96) wrote on his Facebook page this morning, poet T. S. Eliott might have been right: “April is the cruelest month.” Boston. Virginia Tech. Waco. Oklahoma City. Even the Civil War began on a day in April. Yet there are a thousand personal tragedies everyday. This April, I have a cousin mourning her son, a young JMU graduate.
But as a very wise man once said — and whose words are also being circulated on Facebook :
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would always say, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers, so many caring people in this world.” — The late Fred Rogers, the wise and gentle Mr. Rogers.
When tragedies occur whether they are personal or public, the helpers swarm in. It is as if tragedy brings a kind of compassionate resolve, so that as we revolt against it, we also react to it by focusing and seeing what needs to be done. It’s what friends do, evidenced everyday through Scott Roger’s (’00,’02M) website Take them a Meal. We are there to assist whether a tragedy is public or deeply personal. We Americans have no lock on that response, but we do it very well. Sadly, we are practiced.
When the barrier between life and death is breached, when death and tragedy and pain spill into our ordinary lives as it did yesterday in Boston, we do not flee from it. We confront it. Our first response is to heal it. When we weep, we work. We cannot prevent every tragedy or heal every wound, but our humanity demands — indeed our humanity drives us to embrace those closest to the pain, those closest to the blast. When they hurt, we hurt. When they weep, we weep.
Being the change is preventing those tragedies we can prevent, healing those wounds we find, and shoring up those who weep, and weeping with them. It is being what they, in that moment, cannot be for themselves. It is being the hand to the handless, the leg to the legless and the eyes for the blind. It is being there, being available and being willing.
Perhaps it is because we understand that we all have the capacity to weep until our bones are soft.