I used to tell people my heart was with them and really mean it. I’d spend time, intentionally, making a prayer, making a card, a daisy chain, looping my hear’s-cry and their earnest desire. Now? Now it is a dash of thought as quick as sprinkling salt on a plate of potatoes. It’s a throw, a clicked-out reply on Facebook; I’m sick of it.
Really, I miss the integrity, the depth of time spent in quiet-tude, sometimes an hour or hours long. Such was my passion in meeting with G-d, in speaking out psalms and meditations. And the deluge of love. My, I’d sometimes make my voice hoarse and husky from such time spent with such passion towards G-d and so many people. Kids I’d be teaching, parents in trouble, the latest international need or devastation. Any pregnant friend, anyone seeking wisdom, a job, steering in her life; no need was insignificant. I was lit. Moving home? Father sick? I’d head straight to the King and very often, expect some kind of contextual, tangible followup. There’d be a blueprint already, called investment.
And now? Seems my responses to honest and urgent needs are merely cursory. It is the sign of a hasty, impatient generation, or all of us, across ages, so accustomed to the snapchats of social media. All of us with good intentions, responding to the rising toll of dead families in Kathmandu, but then blinking past muffins, through organizational ideas and spotlighted homes, a virtual gallery of kids’ crafts, celeb-interviews, and even a board on Pinterest for trending summer shorts and ways to braid hair.
It’s all so much, because where does that leave our friend who needs an extra line of reassurance as she prepares for the waves of labor? Where does that put Nepal and our care for the medics arriving on the ground to very quickly try and try and try to recover the living and patch them up, somehow? How does my lack of real care, real passion for the lost and missing and fearing and dying and crushed stack-up against all the pretty visuals of succulents and flashy ways to make breakfast more stimulating and “Pinnable”? Who am I as a friend?
I know we can’t make a dent in much of what goes on in the world, much less our own lives, it can feel. The news is hopeless. My heart can’t take another shooting or terrorist attack on students, Christians, Arabs, or Jews. I cannot stomach hearing of another child abused. But if I tell someone I’m thinking of them, let me do better. Let me know that I silenced all of the voices of media and fashion and perfect-mothering-teaching-baking-shopping-recipe-planning-laundering-E! mentioning-Bruce-Jenner-gabbing-every-celeb-&-their-kid-whatever…let me get clear so I can hear the sound of change I can affect, if only by being still and asking, agreeing with the very King of the Universe, the One who founded life and change, forgiveness, and strength.
At the very least, even if these habits of prayer and listening and all don’t amount to much, at least let me know I am a friend. I will not be distracted from the urgency of need, won’t be so easily fooled, dormant, or disengaged. Or worse–I won’t scroll past a picture of hurting students in Kenya and think I’m onto something good simply because I clicked “like” and felt something akin to “bad” or “sad” for a sec. I, we, are called, to move big. To give our time and energy, our resources, big. I want more of this kind of engagement in the world, wanna be more with the movers and shakers of supplying, sharing, and standing in concordance. So long, stagnancy and false promises. From now on, I align myself with tenacity and emotion that gets stuff done. I’ll be a friend to the hurting, or at least plan towards that specific end.
I’ve also got my daughter on the job. So that’s good, right? We discuss who’s hurting or doing well or even visiting this Friday, and she’s already half-way out of her breakfast seat and running for lead and paper. She makes the card, a new drawing special, just for them. And after dinner, too, while I’m picking up scattered rice bits and dribbles of juice, she’s creating evidence of caring for these friends. She means every scratch, every mark, and word.
Whatever it is, do it in love. Whatever it is, feel it, and make some good spring out of it, joining love with the words, “hope”, “love”, “decency”. Let my attention span find a quiet and hold.