As I think back on this last week, this last month, my heart is heavy. After the devastation of three hurricanes, we’ve witnessed a senseless act of human destruction. For those in the path of desolation the suffering is unimaginable. But even those not touched by physical harm feel deep sorrow.
People of compassion and empathy suffer with the suffering. We donate money and supplies and blood. Yet people of compassion can also feel compassion fatigue, discouragement, despair. It is deeply disheartening to think that there might be nothing we can do to prevent the next act of devastation.
We must find the courage to resist to despair; we must renew and restore our inner resources. We must encourage one another.
The images from the floods and mass shootings of the present age have in common something miraculous: hands, reaching out; hands, lifting; hands, holding.
Think of stepping into a flood-driven river, trying to remain standing through the roiling current. Alone, even the strongest person can be swept away. Now think of a chain of people, holding hands, with others bracing along both sides. With the presence and support of community, all who step in the river are safe.
The human response to destruction and suffering is to encourage and support one another. We help, we reach out, we offer hope. We encourage.
In the act of encouragement is our own spiritual deepening. We find courage to continue; we find courage to turn away from despair; we find courage to fling ourselves once again into the churning water.
Join hands. Strengthen connections. Don’t let anyone be swept away. Create a community that keeps everyone safe even as we step into a river of challenge and change.