My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Anguish and wishes

One December when I was 12 or 13 and everyone was eagerly getting ready for the holidays and traveling to visit friends and family, there was a plane crash that killed everyone on board, including the local teacher of some neighbor friends. That incident inspired a conversation with my mother about seemingly senseless tragedies, especially those that occur in jarring proximity to a predominantly festive time. And we concluded that in our humble opinions, this time of year, at least, should be free of suffering. No tragic deaths, no painful illnesses, no war or torture or slavery or homelessness or accidents or crime or starvation or natural disasters or even romantic breakups. Just one month or so out of twelve where there's a moratorium on physical, emotional, and psychological anguish for all of us, regardless of age, race, color, creed, religion, nationality or species. A month where everyone could just relax and have fun and enjoy each other and the beauty in the world, celebrate life and Nature and/or their god(s) and/or goddesses, be comfortable and safe and well and loved. A month of peace on earth for all beings. 

Of course we always realized it was a completely unrealistic wish, but we still can't help but wish it. And although I have many thoughts, emotions and opinions about the horrifying tragedy in Sandy Hook, I simply can't find words adequate to the task of expressing how I feel, yet I can't help but try to write something. Simply resuming my normally light-hearted style of blogging is impossible with so many heavy hearts right now, including mine.

I'm neither religious nor a prayerful person, though consider myself spiritual and often communicate in my own way with what I simply call "the Universe." I don't know it it helps, or if it helps to send out healing thoughts of love and comfort to all those who have suffered unspeakable pain and loss - in Sandy Hook, in the Philippines, in any of the troubled corners of the world and the many anonymous homes, neighborhoods, shelters, factory farms and slaughterhouses where there is violence and tragedy and suffering. But I can't help but do it any more than I can help making that hopeful wish for peace on earth, and peace in people's hearts and minds. And not just at this time of year, but every single day.

Sending comfort to the grieving families and friends of the victims in Sandy Hook
and holding a vision of you in healing love and light, always.
Hoping that friendly hands reach out to all who are distressed or lonely, 
and that skilled, compassionate help is given to all who suffer from mental illness.
Wishing and striving for a world that embraces nonviolence toward all beings,
in which weapons are neither needed nor wanted, 
a world in which our species fully realizes and champions 
its amazing capacity for kindness and compassion.

I found these photos from around the world very moving, especially the one of the children in Karachi, Pakistan. If only we could be united more often by joy instead of so often by grief.

Monday Update... After seeing this performance on The Voice tonight, I wanted to share it here. This is one of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs and this beautiful tribute moved me to tears, especially now that I've seen so many of the faces and personal stories that go with those names...


  1. I have decided that in order for me to wrap my head around this tragedy, I'm going to do a Random Act of Kindness and write a Random Letter of Love [to leave in random books and businesses around town] in honor of each of the victims so that there will be twice the amount of kindness and love in this world to make up for the loss.

  2. Cindi ~ That is a beautiful, wonderful idea! I love it - and plan to adopt it! I think I'll start with the library, leaving messages of love and peace in random books. Thank you so much!

  3. Such a beautifully worded post, Laurie. It is too bad that it takes times of tragedies to pull people together. We need more good in this world just for the sake of good.

  4. Post created... with a picture that can be printed and left at RAKs explaining why...

  5. I love Cindi's idea too! I sometimes despair at the amount of suffering in the world, it makes one feel powerless to change it. I guess all we can do is try to make things better in any way we can no matter how small. I remember that person who left that note for you once Laurie signing it from 'the universe', a small, random act of kindness that made someone smile. A beautiful post...

  6. Molly ~ Thank you, and I agree with you - especially since "like unto itself is drawn," more goodness begets more goodness.

    Cindi ~ Thank you for that link! Again, I love this idea (and that beautiful graphic you shared), and as I said in my comment on your blog, doing this will help the one doing it feel less powerless, and the one receiving it feel more hopeful.

    By the way, I think you'll really enjoy the last part of this post from last year, the part titled, "A Message from the Universe." Receiving this was pure magic and made me feel great for days! I plan to place similar messages in those random library books for starters. :-)

    Barbara ~ I know just what you mean, and feel exactly the same, which is no doubt why CIndi's idea is so appealing to us. And I love that you remembered that note that was left on our porch last December, because BW and I were just recalling that ourselves this morning! Just shared the link to that story with Cindi in my reply to her, too, thought she'd enjoy it. :-)

  7. I think you've managed to beautifully and sensitively express what many of us have been feeling. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and inspiration.

  8. Andrea ~ Thank you, that's very sweet of you to say!

  9. Thank you and Cindi for finding a way to express our care for people. All people.
    And your long ago wish for a moratorium of grief, sadness and violence struck a chord with me. Such a chord.

  10. Peace to you and yours and to all living beings (and plants). :-)

  11. Ellie C ~ I'm confident that Cindi would join me in feeling gratitude if you found what we shared helpful in any way. As for that moratorium, wouldn't it be nice? I think we can at least join forces to do all we can to create it as much as possible on a daily basis, and that's a very empowering feeling.

    veganelder ~ And to you and yours as well! :-)

  12. Hello my friend. I have been all but absent from blogging for a long time. Sometimes it's hard to keep going when other things overwhelm or move higher on the ladder of importance.
    I'm glad I stopped by for this eloquently written post. You have always been a great writer in my opinion. I believe the country is mourning and thru the words and photos you shared, I see it is even more-the world mourns too. I do not watch news-the media circus makes me crazy-but I hear enough to know what the big and important stories are. Often, sadly those are tragedies.... or ridiculous stories that should be only passing ones.
    I love the rememberance of your conversation and dream with your Mom. I can almost picture you two sitting and talking it thru.
    This incident is senseless;there is no way to understand. My one hope is that people may slow down and think about this season-this overly commercialized holiday season-and realize what is truly important and meaningful. Coincidentally, it is this year, several months ago, that I decided I was going to excuse myself from Christmas this year. While I will "be there", and share a meal and time with my family, I am not exchanging gifts. A little something for the niece and nephew as they are young, but otherwise no. I think it may help give more joy and meaning to me. The holiday has become a time I feel sad and blue, rather than what it should be and feel.
    I hope all is well, I hope by now you are tucked away happily in your new home, and I wish you a meaningful holiday.
    Hugs from Maine and me, to you.

  13. Susan ~ It's good to see you again, I've missed you and hope that all is well. Thank you for your sweet compliment, and I agree that something like this surpasses our understanding.

    Several years ago I grew tired of the stress of it all and took a similar approach to the holidays, and ever since I've pretty much celebrated them (or not) as the spirit moves me. I don't like a lot of hubbub at this time of year, feeling that it's a time better suited for simplicity, solitude and quiet reflection than for crowded shopping malls, requisite parties and crass commercialization and grasping materialism. My favorite holiday season was when I celebrated Solstice with a hike up the mountain through the snow with the dogs, where I gathered some evergreen branches and pinecones for our table, and lit candles and played music and wrote down my intentions for the coming year. For that Christmas I decorated our biggest spruce tree with treats like popcorn, cranberries, dried apples and orange slices for the wildlife (which they enjoyed, except for the orange slices). :-) Anyway, my wordy way of saying I applaud you observing this season from your heart instead of from some stressful sense of cultural obligation. I hope it ends up being very gratifying and special for you.

    With warm hugs from Wyoming and me back to you! Love, Tex

  14. Oh my, was that tribute every beautiful. <3

  15. Molly ~ Isn't it? I'm so glad you paid this post another visit so that you were able to view it.

  16. Well, what can I say that hasn't been said already. You've worded your feelings beautifully. Here's to peace for all beings.

  17. This happened as I was leaving for Germany and what I was told by a clerk was that no children were killed. But even in Germany this was big news so I eventually heard about it. I had not yet heard about the Philipines so thank you for sharing that link. The Voice clip was indeed moving and I appreciated seeing that too.

    I echo you and your mom's wish for suffering to take a respite for the Holidays and for peace every single day.

  18. This has been a time to think inwardly about the senselessness that seems to rule our planet. Why does it take random acts of violence to produce random acts of kindness? Sometimes I think Buddhists have it right when they say, if I'm correct, that life is a struggle and a suffering. If we're lucky enough to have a good day, then that is the blessing.

  19. Jo ~ I wondered at what point you would have heard this news, knowing it was reverberating in a big way around the world and that you were unlikely to avoid it. (Too bad that clerk turned out to be so tragically wrong!) Though the news when it eventually reached you no doubt cast a sad pall over your fun trip, I'm glad you enjoyed your Bavarian Christmas adventure and look so forward to hearing all about it today (and perhaps in a "to be continued" Boxing Day phone call!) and to see photos.

    Thank you for visiting this post, and in fact for making it the first one you visited when you had a chance to do some catching up on Mehitable, and for also taking the time to read about the catastrophic loss of life in the typhoon that hit The Philippines (that news story wasn't much of a blip on the US news, so I can understand how you would have missed it!) I'm glad you watched that video - I thought it was beautifully done, and touched me deeply. I often don't care much for Christina Aguilara's "Mean Alpha Girl" behavior on the show, but when she sang her part of the song I lost what little composure I'd managed to cling to.

    And thank you for joining Mom and me (and many others) in our wish.

  20. Spud ~ Wow, you sure packed a lot of profundity into a brief comment! Why does it take random acts of violence to product RAOK? Good question! And why does that spirit of kindness and good will seem to last so briefly before we're back to our old patterns of behavior? I don't know. It seems to me that the path of true kindness often takes more self-awareness and effort, whereas the path of self-absorption and snark is the path of least resistance. Though I'd hate to be right about that.

    Your comment about Buddhist teachings on suffering inspired me to revisit the Buddha's Four Noble Truths. And boy can I relate to this last bit about truth #3: Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas. Nirvana is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it. Try as I might, you can definitely count me among the uncomprehending masses!

    And then I found this very fascinating article...
    Buddhism Explains Stoic Reaction to Disaster, which brings up an awful lot of food for thought for me to mull. I also found this article: Mindfulness of Feelings and Newtown, Connecticut. But I don't really know what a Buddhist would counsel the grieving families of Sandy Hook in order to help them end their suffering, but I'd love to eavesdrop on such counsel. Meanwhile, though, I was really struck by Robbie Parker, whose daughter Emilie was killed in last week's shooting, who expressed compassion and forgiveness toward the family of Adam Lanza. What a remarkable man, and what remarkable courage and grace. He's certainly suffering, but I can't help but think his suffering is lessened and his healing will be deeper and swifter because of his ability to forgive what seems unforgivable. And his compassionate example will surely help to heal the emotional wounds that others in his family and community have suffered.

  21. P.S. Oops, I meant to link to this video of and article about Robbie Parker's words to reporters.


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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