Friday, March 11, 2011

"If I can stop one heart from breaking..."; reflections on tragedy (Japan and the Tsunami)

In every corner of our world, and at every moment, there are tragedies occuring. We dont' always know about their scope or size because they are scattered around the globe like so many shards of a bomb exploded to remind us of our mortality.

Sometimes, through an awful door left ajar, a catalyst of sorrow steps in and lumps all the tragedy together and creates an enormous, tearful and devastating tragedy that we all witness at once. It captures us and stops us in our tracks, causing us to reflect upon the last word we uttered, the last smile we shared and the last complaint we invoked lest the next stroke of bad luck cross our paths.

In the midst of the devastation of Japan's earthquake ravaged landscape lies the present site of this cluster of concurrent tragedies.

'What can I do?' I ask myself. I will pray but I must do more. What I can control is to make sure that at each moment I am available to help another, so that when the time comes that someone does allow me to cross a threshold and reach out to lift another out of hurt of suffering, I am there with my heart and mind open to being immersed in service.

Each of us, if we simply cared for one person, could change the world. We might not be able to anticipate, or fix, or even fathom collective tragedies like the one in Japan, but we can still be ready when all that may be needed is just exactly what we can do -- serve.

One of my favorite poems by Emily Dickenson says it best:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain ;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.