Nov. 22, 2021
A week or so ago, a friend of mine was sharing the recent sudden death of her brother-in-law with our group. As she described being with her sister and her sister’s children, she became choked up and teary-eyed, asking us to “please bear with” her while she took a moment to compose herself. Witnessing the love and sorrow on her face and feeling my pain stemming from her pain, I suddenly understood the true meaning of those three words. She meant them as we commonly do—to please be patient while she collected herself—but I was aware of them as an action. We, a group she trusted, were indeed “bearing with” her, bearing her sorrow, bearing her tears, bearing her grief, out of love for her. Did it change the reality of the situation? No, but I trust that our communal bearing somehow eased her own burden a bit.
This morning those three words came back to me. I was listening to the morning news, only to hear about a driver who crashed through the barricades of a Christmas parade seven hundred miles from me, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, yesterday, killing five people and injuring almost fifty others. A Christmas parade. With children in strollers and elderly people with walkers and kids marching down the street in bands. A festive, innocent affair where nobody who showed up would have wondered if attending that parade that afternoon would end their lives or haunt them forever.
“Bear with me.” I thought of all the grief surrounding those deaths, of all the worries in the hearts of those with loved one in the hospitals, of all the shocked and stunned lives, of a devastated community. “Bear with me.” I thought of the family of the driver, of his friends or loved ones, of the driver himself who apparently did not believe he had anyone to “bear with” him, of the tragedy of all of it, yet another tragedy marking a world scarred and hardened by tragedies.
But how do we “bear with” those we don’t even know, who live half a country, or half a world, away? How do we let them know that our hearts ache, our tears flow, our souls sigh, that their pain isn’t simply a news bleep or headline we have forgotten about almost as soon as we have heard it? I do not know. Yet I do know that if we do not feel with those affected, if we do not realize that their losses are our losses, as well, we risk losing our humanity. I must believe that whatever prayers I lift for them, whatever Light I ask to shine upon them, whatever angels of comfort I call upon somehow reach them because we are all part of the whole, knit together by the Creator who called us in to being. As the priest and poet John Donne wrote so long ago, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. … Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”
Any man’s, any woman’s, any child’s. I write this to ask you to let me know how you “bear with” others in these heart-searing situations. I honestly would like to know. I write this as my small offering of care for those in sorrow, shock, and pain in that community. I also ask anyone who reads this to lift a prayer for those crying in Waukesha, light a candle, whisper comfort, or send a vision of Light. No, we cannot fix the tragedy or change the reality, but together, we can wrap Waukesha in a shawl of love.
Walking with you ~ Rosemary firstname.lastname@example.org