Today’s quote is coming in a moment. First, thank you for spending some time here with me as we try to make sense of the world, of the tragedy and tolls of the invasion of Ukraine and, of course, of our own lives at the same time. We strive for balance – to take in the news, but stay here where love lives, as Nanea Hoffman @sweatpantsandcoffee (a terrific follow on social media) put it so beautifully in a post this weekend:
For me, love was lived in the company of friends and family this weekend, all the while being grateful for both.
On a sunny spring-like day, we hiked for about six kilometres through forest, up and down paths, over roots and rocks and through mud, walking planks…and eventually lunching on a quiet beach before heading back the same way.
It was all quite perfect, especially set against the backdrop of the atrocities being forced upon other families, other children and grandparents, at that moment.
Of course, at any moment there is always tragedy happening: while we are blowing out our birthday candles, somewhere else, life support is being turned off. It is the reality of our lives as part of the family of humans on this tiny blue dot we call earth, and only we can control how much of that reality weighs upon us at any given moment.
I watched these boys – our friends’ grandsons and our own – digging in the sand, laughing, waving sticks at each other and throwing shells. In that moment, of course, thoughts of terrified children fleeing for their lives from shells of a different, deadly kind also pecked at my brain like the pileated woodpecker we had heard jackhammering on an empty trunk in the woods.
We came home exhausted from that hike and as I showered before preparing a warm and filling dinner, I was grateful to be washing off the dirt and the day and thinking of people who had no water, never mind hot water, to do the same. And then it occurred to me: every day in the world there are people in the same situation. I should be grateful with every single shower I take. Every toilet flush. Every illuminated room, every warm bed I climb into. (Okay, that sounds like I climb into a lot of beds. There’s really just the one, but you know what I mean.)
We can watch, we can pray, we can worry, we can lie awake wondering how to help. It can and does all feel pretty futile. But one thing we can do is use what we see, hear and read to remind us of how damned lucky we are.
Our gas prices are high, but we have (many of us) vehicles to drive. And they – we – are not being bombed.
We aren’t always happy with our government, but we have the right and the privilege to vote. We do not have a dictator, we haven’t lost any freedoms. We are not shot for voicing dissent.
We may think at times that our neighbouring country is unhinged (see 2016 to 2020 in particular), but it isn’t coming at us with warships.
We are weary of masks, but we can take them off and breathe air that is not acrid with the smoke of destruction or tainted with radiation.
We can let the events in Ukraine – the worry of what’s next and what’s possible or probable – consume us, or we can take a deep breath (or several) and count our blessings with each one. May these terrible and turbulent times heighten our compassion while also amplifying gratitude for the love that is where we live.