Robb Elementary School, Uvalde, Texas, May 24th, 2022…
When there are no more words to approximate the utter gut-wrenching anguish of a desperately grieving parent, whose child has been slaughtered, at school, during reading group, or a spelling test…
When the complexity of a common reality like owning and using a gun to commit mass murder on a regular Tuesday morning in May…When this complexity overwhelms the simple truth that, yet again, an angry teenager with a loaded gun is never going to end well…
When fellow citizens, who are themselves parents, grandparents, teachers, and siblings, continue to disagree vehemently on the moral response to a vast human tragedy such as this..
How do we find hope? Without hope, how do we march on?
I have little space in my heart for hope this morning. My chest is tight with rage and sorrow.
This morning, like most mornings, Delta Mae joins me in contemplation. She sprawls next to me in a patch of sunlight, and waits for me to be done. Some mornings, like this morning, Delta comes to me for a snuggle. She senses my mood and needs to connect. I am grateful.
Peggy has created many gardens full of perennials that bloom from Spring to Fall. We call this particular garden, in the center of the side yard, our Contemplation Garden. A small stone patio, a single table and chair, and gentle morning sun have made it a natural spot to sit and be still.
Did you know that nuthatches favor fur for their nests? I see them swoop in and pluck from Delta’s haunches or tail. Delta used to flinch reflexively when she felt the pluck of her fur, like a horse does when it wants to rid itself of flies in the field. Nowadays, Delta embraces the stillness and the silence, and the nuthatch are happy with their prize.
The garden surprises me with something nearly every day. I saw diamond chips nestled amongst ferns today. Who knew that leftover raindrops on cobwebs could be so dramatic?
We have a box turtle who lives in the contemplation garden. Invariably, this plodding reptile makes me feel happy.
Peggy has planted mostly native plants in the garden, like milkweed that will welcome monarch butterflies. I added a ceramic blue bird bath, on sale at Kroger, mostly for color, during a bland, brown period in November.
This past fall, September thru December, I sat in contemplation and watched the garden slowly wither into winter. I knew I likely had ALS as the weakness in my left hand became more real. Sitting in contemplation with trees losing their leaves and flowering plants sinking back into the soil, I remember feeling an odd and unexpected solace. My reality of ALS seemed shared by a greater reality. My truth was held up in a wider truth.
William McNamara defines contemplation as, “…a long loving look at the real.” This works for me. The practice of contemplation reliably creates space in my heart, some might say in my soul. The space makes room for hope.