My Prayer for Today

When I woke up this morning, my eyes, ears, mind, and heart were filled with stories of the tragedy in Las Vegas. The emotional flooding began . . .

-Sadness about the loss of 50 lives.
-Grief for the families and friends of each of those people.
-Fear about the unleashed hatred that confronts us daily.
-Gratitude for the quick response of  law enforcement, emergency personnel, and civilians who worked quickly at the scene.
-Appreciation for those who have already stepped up to give blood and help save lives.
-Disgust with the human condition and that the shooter’s anger/rage/fear/unknown was     big enough to visibly harm over 200 people, and non-visibly harm a band, and city, a         plethora a families, a state, a nation, and then some.
-Amazement at how quickly this news spread across the nation and to other nations.
-Exhaustion from listening to the internal voices asking “What can we do? What can we do? What can we do?”

Needless to say, I started thinking about how our world needs more empathy, more grace, more love.  What does that look like? How do I do that?

The news told of a young concert-goer who had witnessed M______ D_______ shouting, “You’re all going to die tonight” 45 minutes prior to the shooting. She was led out of the concert because she was disruptive.  This gave me pause.  Was this her last act of desperation? Could things have gone differently if someone had heard her? Obviously, someone heard her, as her quote can be found all over the news. What I mean is could things have gone differently if someone had actually listened to her? What if as she was being escorted out somebody asked “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

Could the shooter have been stopped? Minutes beforehand? Days beforehand? Weeks ago?  What if someone had really listened to him months ago and responded with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?” Could we have gotten help for him?

I understand that this cannot undo the damage that has been done. There’s been a lot of damage. Lives have been lost. We must grieve.  I’m just thinking that as I move forward, as I grow, as I try to love fearlessly, that maybe I need to listen more courageously.  Not ignoring. Not hoping someone else will deal with it.  Not writing it off because it’s not my problem, but fearlessly asking the questions. Listening.  People who are hurting do not usually do the most drastic thing first.  Acts of desperation come from smaller pain that escalates. Sometimes the signs are there beforehand.  Sometimes it’s just a whisper.  Ignored whispers become screams.  Ignored screams become acts of desperation. What would happen if I listen when people are indicating pain?

When someone is talking about depression, or suicide, can I make a difference if I were to respond with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

When someone is talking about anger, and wanting to inflict violence can I make a difference by responding with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

When a nation of people are demonstrating their pain, can I make a difference by responding with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

When someone is hinting about abuse/violence/neglect in their own home, can I make a difference by responding with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

Could I make a difference if I just listened?

Lord, help me to listen to others.  Help me to respond to other people’s hearts when it is early enough to hear, to understand, to help.  Help me to be brave enough to ask difficult questions, to be there for others, to respond and help before their pain becomes “too big.” Help me to listen to people when they are whispering for help so that they don’t have to scream for help.  Lord, help me to intercede and intervene (or at least just listen) before another person’s pain escalates into an act of desperation.

Lord, surround me with others who will also listen.  When I am struggling, let me be near another who will hear me.  When my pain becomes “too big” and I am on the path toward  a bad decision, self-harm, or any other act of desperation, place people in my life who love fearlessly. People who will ask tough questions. People who will listen.

Lord, help me to be brave. Hope and healing happen in the light.   Topics like shootings, domestic violence, suicide, substance abuse, racism, hatred, sexual assault, and fear must be talked about—in the Light. We can not heal if we turn our faces away from these things. Help me to courageously speak up for humanity.  More importantly, help me to LISTEN to humanity. Help me to listen and respond when it is just a whisper. Help me to listen and respond when I hear a scream. Help me to listen and respond before it becomes an act of desperation.

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My Tears Make Me a Warrior (Day 8)

I don’t need nerves of steel
To be allowed to grow and heal.
My tears make me a warrior.

Call me sensitive, if you will,
Emotions don’t scare me — 
I’ve had my fill.
My tears make me a warrior.

It takes courage to face the things I’ve seen.
Bliss, pain, and everything in between.
My tears make me a warrior.

Depression, sadness, and despair?
Bitter and angry beyond repair?
My tears make me a warrior.

I may scream;
I just might cry.
I won’t pretend
Something’s in my eye.
I have no need
To hide or deny.
Ask about my feelings?
Let me demystify —
My tears make me a warrior.

I don’t need to act tough.
Reality is enough.
It takes guts to cry,
That’s why I’m so fly—
My tears make me a warrior.

NaPoWriMo.net Day 8

“Today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that relies on repetition. It can be repetition of a phrase, or just a word. Need a couple of examples? Try “The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe, or Joy Harjo’s “She Had Some Horses”. Poe’s poem creates a relentless, clanging effect through the repetition of the word “bells,” while Harjo’s repeated use of the phrase “she had some horses” and variations thereof gives her poem poem its incantatory effect, while also deepening its central philosophical conceit of what things are the same and what things are different.”

When I Grow Up, I want to be a Fire Truck

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-6-22-30-pmFire truck

I remember looking through
an old childhood book,
In which I had added
My two cents.
With all of my sense,
And my backward-letter
Penmanship, I had plotted
my plans
on the page.

“When I grow up
I want to be
a firetruck.”

Since then,
I had laughed at
Such silly, sophomoric
Sentiment.

“Look,” I’d say, and point
at my self-prescribed,
Pre-school script.
“I really took it to heart
When they told me I could be
Anything I wanted.
A firetruck?
What could I have
Been thinking?”

But, tonight,
As I listed and lamented
The long list of
Other occupations

I had once considered:

Interior designer,
Psychologist,
Cultural anthropologist,
I realized something. . .

Haven’t I since,
In a sense,
Become all of these things?

Except for the fire truck.

But that, perhaps, is
What I am to become.

I still
Want to be
A fire truck!

You see, of a fire truck,

Nobody has ever said:

“Don’t listen to her,
she’s just overreacting.”

“He’s making all of that noise,
Because he didn’t get his way.”

When fire truck wails and screams,
nobody says:

“She has become angry and bitter.”

“Maybe he wants something to really cry about.”

“She’s probably about to get her period.”

“He’s being irrational and crazy.”

As the fire truck
Declares an emergency,
Nobody dismisses it with:

“I don’t know why she is crying. It was her own fault.”

“There he goes, getting all political again.”

“She has no reason to be upset.
She is just being manipulative.”

“Dude, seriously?
Are you complaining again?”

But, a fire truck is respected,
Heard, heeded, honored.

The fire truck is a warrior,
Shouting out
An alarm call,
A barbaric yawp,
A siren cry to save lives.

The fire truck is
not a second-hand good.
Not a victim,

A fire truck is not
Something to be seen and not heard,
But instead,
Is a voice.
A voice that matters.

A voice that pushes through denial
Saying
“Hey!
There is something wrong here.
I can point it out.
I can lead the way.
Hear me.”

I still
Want to be
A fire truck!