Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
~ Mary Oliver
I am thinking this morning of Aimee Mann’s song, Wise Up (from the movie, Magnolia). In particular, the chorus, which says: It’s not going to stop, until you wise up.
Earlier in the week I told a friend I believed this time we are living in is miraculous. There’s an awakening and a return to sanity happening. I said we should, “all wear party hats and use noisemakers in celebration over the fact that we are alive to see it.” A change this big hasn’t happened in thousands of years.
Then, yesterday happened.
It happened again. Another lunatic with a gun.
And this morning parents are planning funerals for twenty children between the ages of six and seven.
When will we wise up?
I sit at the computer staring into the darkness of human nature, wondering how to make the child inside me stop crying. How do we salvage something – some glint of light – from abject horror? Tightening our gun laws? Providing better access to mental health care? Paying attention to the warning signs that someone is hanging by a thread?
Maybe. But those are symptoms of deeper, more pervasive problems. How do we address the disease in our society? The sickness, raw anger, pain, hopelessness. We cannot address the problem using the same mind set that created it.
Transformation often involves death, whether it is a literal death or a metaphorical one. And this society — this way of being in the world — is dying. We are on notice. Change or face the consequences. Dire consequences.
How do we unpack this loss?
I got up and did my morning prayers, made a pot of coffee, and snuggled with my little licorice stick of a cat with his luxurious black muff tail. I turned on the Christmas tree and examined the various bits of my childhood that hang on its branches. The delicate doe ornament with a pink ribbon painted around its neck, its body made of opaque glass. The wooden wreath sprinkled with glitter. The bright green pickle. The hand-painted glass globe. The angel scooping sand at the sea shore. I saw my mother’s love on every branch.
Love. Or fear.
Those are the choices. We know the dark terrain of fear well. We’ve mapped it and surveyed it and measured it repeatedly over the last two hundred years. It hasn’t served us. It hasn’t helped us be less afraid. It has only stymied our growth, and blocked us from seeing our true nature — which is imbued with kindness, compassion, reverence.
Enough tears. Enough talk. It is time to become love. Love for each other. Love for this planet and all its creatures. Love that can foster humility, forgiveness, and peace.
There is a gift in this darkness.
Yes, even this.
© 2012 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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4 thoughts on “Wise Up”
Good post. On a lighter note, the comfort of cats is such a blessing.
I agree. Cats (and dogs) provide solace in a way almost nothing else does. 🙂
I taught a course in Human Rights to college juniors in the Northeast this semester. It was my first time and it was extremely challenging. We ended the class with a discussion of Desmond Tutu’s short essay on ubuntu. I thought of this essay as I watched and listened to events unfolding yesterday, our last day of final exams. While the child in me cannot stop crying either, your words comfort and uplift me as I prepare to grade their final papers on such subjects as torture, child slave trade, Syria and Native Americans and healthcare. With your permission, I would like to share your post with them after I post grades. They were an especially thought-full class who taught me so much. If they represent the future, I have hope. Thank you for writing! Kelly (friend of Bobbie Gentry and former Arizonan)
Thank you, Kelly. I would be honored to have you do that.