On the Internet, someone posted a map of Chicago with an estimated “damage zone” theorizing what the devastation would be like if the tsunami that rocked the coast of Japan were to hit the Chicago and North Shore coastline. Suffice it to say that Wilmette would be gone. It would have been ground away to nothing.
I don't know that we need such an example to begin to recognize the magnitude of the destruction. I hate to think of ways to traumatize us further, but to be selfish, I am traumatized a bit and I hate feeling alone in it. That, however, is the nature of trauma. It isolates us. Even when we suffer trauma together, we can feel isolated. So, I am tempted to try to say or do something to get the attention of other people. The intensity of my own emotions are more than I care to bear alone. As I said, however, that would be very selfish.
My congregation has family ties to Japan. We have a few Japanese members. Their families are still there. I have family there. Fortunately everyone directly connected with us is safe, but the nation reels. After worship on Sunday we found ourselves gathered in the aisles of the sanctuary sharing tears...helpless and mournful tears.
How can we help?
How can we give?
How can we absorb the pain?
There is a particular truth about community. As much as I like to extol the power inherent in community, our shared ability to change things, to respond with grace to adversity and change the world for the better, sometimes the only thing a community can do is huddle together in grief. Sometimes we are helpless. Sometimes all we have are tears. Communities weep.
This week I wish I had something uplifting and jovial for you. Maybe next week I will. St. Patrick's Day always cheers me up. This week I would offer you my tears instead.
May grace and peace be yours. May we never be alone in our grief.
There are ways that you can give if you would like. You can contact the Red Cross. They are pooling resources. If you are a member of a religious community, look for what your tradition may already be doing. For example, I know that there are several Christian relief agencies working overtime right now.