good and tired

“Against every new outrage and every fresh horror, we shall put up one more piece of love and goodness….we should be willing to act as a balm for all wounds” Etty Hillesum

It was a long day today. I was up well before dawn and it is not almost 10, and I am just now sitting down here again.

Mostly I spent the day in the kitchen, drying and preparing meal packets. I’d purchased the ingredients some time ago, intending to prep for a dreamed-of 3 week wilderness journey this fall with Don. Whether that can happen now lies within the uncertainty of all of our days.

And it feels so trivial. I found the work today tedious, an unwelcome distraction, where often I have found it filled with creative joy for what it represents. Perhaps those dehydrated meals will be useful in some way if grocery runs become more restricted. However, there have been assurances that the food chain is healthy and intact and that going out for essentials will be allowed no matter. So, the work felt rather meaningless.

The subject of food brings me to the real reason for my fatigue. My daughter took herself to the food pantry this afternoon. It was so difficult for her to do, mostly because a friend shamed her for doing so (I think my daughter had accepted before that phone conversation that her loss of income was through no fault of her own, as businesses are being required to close by the government, and that the offer of food assistance was acceptable and authentic). There is such stigma around receiving help in our culture. It saddens me that giving and receiving compassionate care is considered disgraceful.

And so she cried. And so I held. And so she turned back, afraid. And so I cleared a path. And so I ‘walked’ with her. And so it rained. And so she received. And so she carried a chicken, a cabbage, cans and carrots, the box heavy and damp. And so she locked the door behind her.

And in the scarcity of work, even the yogi’s are competing. Still believing their worth is in capital, that both need and worthiness are scarce. The ‘airwaves’ (is that what you call it?) are overflowing with offerings, some authentic gifts, others screaming, ‘please see me’ (and in truth is that not also an authentic need?)

And she was finally standing on her own feet, ready to take off. Financially stable. Emotionally well. Seeing her life as possibility rather than failure.

She is but one story of heartbreak.

And she will survive.

Today I noticed the way that stress reveals unhealed wounds in human beings. Wounds like unlovability. unworthiness. not-enoughness, and more basic than that – fears of survival. Today I understood why there are wars over resources.

Today, I learned that the young man for whom we all had been praying did not have the virus. We all breathed a sigh of relief because his story had scared us all into thinking our sons and daughters might appear to be fine at lunchtime and on End Of Life care by dinner. As if our compassion was misplaced, I found myself apologizing to those with whom I’d shared the story, for unnecessarily frightening them. As if that was the only reason we all were praying for his recovery, or holding his terrified family, or encircling them in our prayers.

And so, I noticed my own vulnerabilities that were uncovered by the stress of it all, my own fears of being shamed. ( That childhood rhyme about sticks and stones isn’t really true.)

Mayor Cuomo reminded us all today that our greatest vulnerabilities are also our greatest strengths.

Said another way, our wounds are the root of our compassion. Being willing to expose them from time to time perhaps brings healing.

We are good.

And I am still tired.

Good night.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    Mar 26, 2020 @ 23:16:56

    Can Yoyr daughter collect unemployment? Such a stressful time.
    No need to apologize for sharing your friend’s ordeal: prayers were freely given coated in concern and thankfully he doesn’t have the virus and is recuperating. All is well.



    • emmaatlast
      Mar 27, 2020 @ 06:58:53

      So far she’s gotten a “no” on the unemployment. Most of her work was contracted work with agencies, studios, gyms . The one that was her bread and butter, she hasn’t worked for more than the required time period of 6 months in order to qualify..( She just moved to the city in September)
      Perhaps when the new bill gets passed there will be a change in the qualifications, as they have indicated there would.



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