When There are No Words

January 10, 2021

As we continue our journey, it seems, in a way, like a lifetime ago that Jan. 6, 2021, happened, instead of five short days.  Perhaps that is how time manages nightmares.  Yet each and every image haunts me, much like two burning skyscrapers on Sept. 9, 2001, still haunt me almost twenty years later.  I cannot look at anymore photos because some horrors are too great to be erased.

There are no words to describe what I saw unfolding as hordes of thugs and insurrectionists swarmed into our nation’s Capitol building to protest and undo what is sacred to democracy:  a free and fair election process and peaceful transfer of power.

There are no words to describe how I felt hearing a sitting president and other elected officials spilling lies to an angry crowd ready to believe their false words over those of sixty-plus courts, including the highest in the land, who have thrown out any accusations of voter foul play.

There are no words to describe hearing the news of a murdered policeman, doing his duty, being turned upon by the very people their party claims to hold in honor.  There are no words for this officer’s family that can offer any solace.

There are no words to describe how I feel while I await January 20, a monumental and celebratory day in any administration.  What was going to be relief is now anxiety; what was going to be hope is now concern.

There are no words to justify those who continue to support, approve, defend, or rationalize the actions caused by a person who lives in a mental state of denial when such support, approval, defense, and justification are putting lives in danger, are putting our nation in danger.  There are no words when I no longer feel safe in my own country.

There are no words to describe my fear for my children, my granddaughter; there are no words that I can use to imagine what their futures might look like.

There are no words to understand how multitudes of people would disagree vehemently with everything I’ve just written.

Make no mistake.  We live in a land of deep darkness; we dwell in “the land of the shadow of death,” as the ancient guide Isaiah wrote.  Political upheaval aside, Covid-19 took more lives this past week in my state than any other time since the pandemic began, including my cousin’s husband.  People gathered for the holidays.  They ignored the rules.  They infected innocent others.  Many just didn’t care.  Many still don’t, as they cast doubt and suspicion on the vaccinations that would save them.  And us.  There are no words.

Two thousand years ago, another ancient guide, the Christian apostle Paul, described a similar time in Rome: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains.”  Our country, perhaps our world, is in labor.  Something is being birthed, and having experienced two births, I know that birth is not easy or painless or pretty or devoid of anxiety and concern.  Birthing anything hurts.  Another spiritual guide, psychiatrist and theologian Gerald May, wrote in his book The Awakened Heart that “Neither the cosmos nor the earth, neither life nor death, is ever in perfect repose.  The universe is always happening, endlessly changing, finding greater beauty, seeking deeper harmony.  Life in all creation is breaking up and gathering together, destroying and birthing.”  Destroying and birthing.  The question for each one of us, especially those who follow the Light and desire to be Light-bearers, is what do we want that new creation to be?  Are we willing to step forward, to step out of our own dullness and safety zones, to aid in the birthing of a country made in the image of its Creator, of a loving and compassionate Universe, instead of in the image of one of us?

When there are no words, I read a little further in Paul’s letter to the Romans who were new Light-followers living in a world not so dissimilar to ours, and I anchor my soul in his words:  “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”  So I sit in silence and allow Spirit to pray from the very being of my heart, to pray with all my heart, for this new creation being birthed.  I know others are doing so, as well–fellow pilgrims on the way.

And when my hope falters, as it does from time to time, I recall the words of the philosopher George Santayana who asserted that “The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.”

The spirit struggles to the light.  Yes, the light shines on, maybe just in flickers or glimmers, but it is there.  It is why my Christmas tree is still up, not as a holiday tree, but now as a winter tree, with snowflakes and white bulbs that remind me to look at the world through the eyes of the Christ, the Light, the One who could see through the darkness to the beauty and courage within.  Perhaps the only word needed now is Amen.  May it be so.

Published by rosemarymcmahan

Poet, writer, minister, traveler on the way

5 thoughts on “When There are No Words

  1. Incredibly written, incredibly powerful and oh, so true. It also breaks my heart to see images of people with signs, tattoos and words-on-lips that speak of Jesus and Christianity in ways that are NOT my Jesus nor my Christianity. It is appalling. Thank you for your courageous words, dear Rosemary.

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  2. Thank you, Rosemary, for powerfully using your words when there are no words. Your quote from Paul’s letter to the Romans truly shimmers for me. It is of great comfort to know so many are sitting in silence, as you are, to “…allow Spirit to pray from the very being of my heart, to pray with all my heart, for this new creation being birthed. I ask Spirit too, to hold all of it, even the others who I cannot comprehend, in Love‘s expansive embrace.
    PS I have also kept my small fir tree up with only lights and paper snowflakes, and it brings such comfort these days…I love your calling it a winter tree and what it symbolizes for you.

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  3. You manage to evoke comfort and hope when I was feeling despair and doubt. Thank you, as always, my friend. For one who has “no words,” your words here have been a balm and a blessing.

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