Erin's Journals

Monday, October 16, 2023

Just a thought…

It all seems so…immaterial, so unimportant. When I sit here with my fingers poised over the keyboard, I want to share thoughts on our lives, our days, our highs and lows and yet, in the shadow of the tremendous suffering happening in Israel and neighbouring Gaza, as well as in Ukraine, of course, and too many other countries to list here, I wonder: how? How does any of this matter when so much pain and terror have gripped our fellow humans?

There’s no more that I can say in the support of innocents and victims of senseless violence and predictable retribution; people with more experience, perspective and wisdom than I have already taken space in every possible corner of the written and visual world. And so I stay quiet and wonder what else I can possibly add.

The only perspective I have for you, my friend, is that out-of-step feeling so many of us have when our lives go on. When we observe with awe a sight like this one out of our window…

…or the simple peaceful play of bright leaves dancing in the wind or gently clinging to trees. The glorious contrast of yellows and oranges against dark wet tree bark. The sparkling sights over our nearby Gulf Islands as the sun rises on a turbulent world.

It all feels so damned normal. And that is the jarring, incongruous fact of life when suffering abounds: anyone who has lost a loved one or endured a tremendous personal trauma is jolted, almost insulted, to observe life around them going on as if nothing happened. The seasons still change, the sun still rises and if we didn’t know what was happening in other parts of the world or in our own lives, we would never see that things have been altered forever.

I recall the evening of that day after Lauren died in 2015, remarking to Rob as we saw a glorious sky and the leaves and blossoms making their May arrivals in Ottawa. I said to him, “How can the world be so beautiful and so awful?” and he said, “This is how it’s always been.” And he was, and is, right.

In motherhood, like the old saying goes, your heart walks around the world outside of you. And it’s not unlike being a caring citizen of the world, worrying for the peril and suffering of those you have never met, but whose stories you’ve read, whose faces you’ve seen, whose pain, loss and terror you can barely comprehend, even on the most basic level.

So many posts call for prayer and I think, Aw, come on…if prayers worked, no one would suffer. But then I reconsider, keeping in mind how it changes me. Prayer brings peace to the one who is quietly sending thoughts instead of opinions, grounding them in their intentions and giving them consolation in the hope that their efforts may have some effect. There is so little we can do but to show and share love, compassion and to embrace our common humanity, rather than focussing on our differences. Why, oh why, in the 21st century is it still over religion? Why so much suffering in the name of a god?

And so, with or without us, and as it always has and will, the world goes on. May peace be with you. And may we continue to be grateful for it in a world where it is but a prayer.

Rob WhiteheadMonday, October 16, 2023