I posted a few days ago some reflections on the shootings that happened here in Tucson January 8th. It took me a while, over three weeks, to put my reactions out to the world, for all who wanted, to see. I kept writing and re-writing different drafts. Some were too raw, some were too edited, some were too manicured. For whatever reason, I kept changing the words. There was too much emotion, too many tears were shed, for my words to be sufficient to explain anything.
Despite being completely exhausted from the stress of the day and from leading people throughout Nogales and Altar, Sonora, Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona- I did manage to write something down. I guess with all the hubbub of the delegation and everything else, somehow I’d completely forgotten about it until today, as I just stumbled upon that page in my journal.
Love in any language
Today, tragedy changed the world. On a national scale, policy will be affected, method changed, and the “how” of “representing the people,” will be compromised. On a local scale, families are changed, loved-ones taken, and tears are shed. Lots of tears are shed.
I walked into the Ed office this evening to see Ali and Meredith hugging.
How stupid I’d been to not think about how this would impact her, given her previous experience. She cried. Meredith held her. I joined in the embrace for just a moment before Polita walked in- a little confused at the situation, so Ali explained in Spanish. I thought about stepping in, and explaining it for Ali, something tangible I could do to alleviate the stress of explaining pain again, and then the further stress of explaining it in a second language.
But, I refrained.
We continued conversing in Spanish. Ali told Polita how one of the leaders had said, in commenting about a desert-walk they’d done together that day, “If I’d known there’d be snakes and insects in the desert, I wouldn’t have okayed the experience.”
Polita made a joke about giving him a snowglobe and saying, “here’s your land.” And we all laughed together. We embraced. We shed tears together.
And, although Meredith speaks little Spanish, she was present with us in all of those moments- embracing, crying, and laughing. The words didn’t matter. Nothing could be done. But, her presence meant everything. The language may not have been the same, but the love was.
As long as I have eyes with which to see, I’ll have tears to shed. As long as I have a mouth with which to share stories, I’ll have a smile to give. If only the whole world could now of the smiles they are called to continue to share so that the tears don’t feel as heavy.
A few days later, Obama came to Tucson to be with the grieving city. There was a lot of pomp and circumstance. There was a lot of waiting. And, there was a lot of talking.
It was really hard to not shut myself off entirely when Jan Brewer addressed the stadium, the city, and the nation. Especially when she said, “I know Arizona.”
A friend whispered in my ear while she was speaking, “It’s like having a liar give a keynote speech about truth.”
But- Obama had some great sound-bites. Sound-bites that I really hope do more than just capture a brief, passing moment of air-time, but rather serve as inspiration for change.
“Make sure that we’re talking to each other in a way that heals, not wounds.” (Which, given my tacky comment above, you can tell I’m still working on it. But hopefully- aren’t we all still working on it?)
“…but how much we have loved.”
“…prompts though and debate. Let’s make sure its worthy of those that we’ve lost.”
“Whether that change will make us afraid, or whether it will inspire us toward a change for a better world.”