There’s a lot going on. Sometimes we want to pull the covers over our head and stay in bed. The news feed on our phone and TV brings a daily litany of rage and woe.
Yesterday an earthquake, the second in two weeks hit Mexico, with 242 dead and counting. Today Hurricane Maria with record winds is ravaging Puerto Rico and soon to hit surrounding islands, already laid waste by last weeks Hurricane Irma. Its been only a few weeks since Hurricane Harvey visited the Gulf Coast and flooded the city of Houston.
What to do?
Some of us stop watching the news. It’s just too much to absorb.
Others write checks, offer prayers and even grab supplies and head down to help as best we can. It’s cathartic to do something.
There is however a deeper opportunity at hand. A spiritual opportunity. An invitation to remain open to the stories of those in harm’s way.
To see oneself in the face of the mom striving to provide for her children. To identify with the dad who grieves the loss of a home. To hear the exhaustion in the voice of a first responder.
Taking time to be present to the stories we read and the voices we hear can touch us at a deep level. As we remain open, rather than deplete us, each person’s story can serve to both humble us and inspire.
What I’m saying is that between avoidance and action is a third way. A way of becoming more human. To see the humanity in the face of a Syrian refugee, to wonder at the tenacity of a Houstonian swamping out their house, to relate to the fear of a child who worries what tomorrow will bring. To see oneself in each of their lives.
Such openness is a spiritual practice. A way of becoming more fully human, more alive and ultimately more connected and committed to the well-being of others.
Opening ones story to the story of others is an invitation to transformation. No longer is there a them and us….there is simply an us.
My faith tradition calls this communion, deep communion. The belief that as we relate more deeply to others we find our true self and are met by the God of many names. The One who is the ground of all being.