Atonement

Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com
I can't remember a year where there has been so much happening in
such a few short days. From Passover, Holy Week, Earth Day, to the 
twenty year anniversary of Columbine, to just the general news cycle.
I've been pulling up pieces to share, trying to discern what I should put
up, as I have pieces fitting to all these events. If I'm missing something,
please forgive me, there's no paucity in topics currently.  I was going
to post a nature poem for Earth Day yesterday, but I had an extremely
busy day and fell asleep. This morning, I was looking for something
and I came across a poem I must have written years ago. It was a period
where I was consistently taking care of my niece, and she's going into
high school next year. At the time, I wrote the poem, I was spending
a lot of time with her and she was going through this stage where 
(to no one's surprise) the news cycle was extremely disturbing to her.
When the nightly news came on, she had such a response. It really
got me thinking about the world we are leaving to future generations.
I grew up with news every night. We would sit down to dinner and
in the background would be Tom Brokaw or Peter Jennings or Dan
Rather, giving the nightly news broadcast. The first time I remember
'watching' live news unfold all day (as is quite common now) was on
April 20, 1999. I was in college when Columbine happened. I was living
in the dorms and I will never forget that spring afternoon. I've lived on
the cusp of generations my whole life. I am technically born and placed
in Generation X. I don't know if it's having an older sibling, etc, but I 
definitely relate to Generation X and know more of that 'culture' than I do
'Millenial Culture,' which is the group that follows the group I grew up in.
I think Columbine is one of those events that separates it. I remember 
sitting with the whole floor of the door just glued to the TV in our 
lounge. There were many 'firsts' that day. I think, for many of us, it was
the first day we ever just sat and watched live news unfolding right
in front of us for hours. We also couldn't believe (as many couldn't)
what was happening. We grew up with guns and the threat of violence
in school, but we were not part of the culture that for now over twenty
years has  had to deal with 'random shooter drills in school.' This had not
happened yet. We really had not had to think of our 'position' on gun 
control.' We certainly were entering an era of partisan politics, but 
nothing like what future generations face. My nephews born a few years
earlier, would grow up as 'Millenials." Born just before Columbine, they
would endure repeat shootings, learn to accept twenty-four hour news
cycles, but even their experiences paled, in terms of what my niece
would grow up facing. She was born into a generation consumed
by news cycles, technology, mass shootings, partisan politics, a
planet in peril. I remember the news coming on and the fear she
would have. The news was almost 'background music to my childhood
dinners. In working with kids and teens as a psychotherapist, I see
kids like her afraid of the news cycle or some over-exposed to it.
Anyway, as I was searching for a poem for today, I came across
this piece, which I wrote after taking care of her and dealing with
this horrible fear of the news cycle. It was so alarming to me that
the mere thought of having to watch a half hour news broadcast 
could induce such fear. It left me with a lot of questions, most of all,
what kind of world are we leaving to these kids, how will it
impact them, and where do you even begin to explain the events of
this world to a young child? The poem I chose never stuck out to me,
but when I read it this morning and remembered the events that 
triggered it, I read it differently. 

Atonement

Earth, I can't help but wonder what your capacity to forgive is?
I rock her in my arms, news to graphic.
It's everywhere, no space without stepping on landmines,
Images of shrapnel, serial shooters bounce off the moon and stars.
I tell you God is like the sun. He will dry the blood.
A dazed insect sits on my hand,
and I cannot move you or swat it it tonight.
Everything deserves to live and have it's peace,
Tragedy is a hard swallow for us all.
I tell you of anomalous sea breezes I used to sing to
In hours of my life when I was too young, like you,
To know broken cathedral bells can
And do find  ways to ring again.
The horizon can always be used for anchoring
When ache carves it deep into your skin.
I hum you crippled waltzes
And pray you just hear instructions for dancing.
As tragedy unfolds around us,
There is little time to doubt your purpose,
There is little time not feel your intrinsic connections,
There is little time too be too old to be too young to know
The urgency that is ground and womb.
You are asleep in my arms,
And I'm permitted secrets again.
I too am scared, yet I need you to know
From the seeds we will make squash,
From the mess we make more than "God bless,'
Know action is how you can laugh in the face of tragedy,
It helps the walls of the complexity of this crazy crack a bit,
Changing the shape of the sadness.
Feel it, there is still softness in the breeze,
Hear there is still atonement in the cello's song,
Offering us it's honest hand begging us
To not be afraid. We must meet the music of chaos,
Take it's hand and forget not to dance
With all that scares us silent.

























Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s