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Monday, March 14, 2011

Bruised Bamboo, a little help.

The suffering and despair of Japan’s people is incomprehensible to me. I watch as their desperate images appear on my TV screen, slotted between ads for Pop-Tarts and toothpaste, like a tragic prime time series. The imagines are too much too take in. I want to look away. Thousands of people’s lives have been broken to bits, their pieces cast to the wind. I shift on my sofa, seeking a more comfortable position. But there is no comfort, because my brothers and sisters are suffering. I continue to watch…. and sink into a hole of despair, where hope seems impossible. and loss the victor.

I begin to fear for myself and my family. Living at sea level in Florida, where an earthquake in another remote part of the world could trigger a tsunami and it could be us on TV, or the West Coast, or any other part of the world. I want to run and hide....go somewhere safe from calamity. But there is no safe place.....and Japan is devastated.

I force myself to feel the snake of despair that has curled up inside of me: depression, fear, grief, helplessness. I see an old Japanese woman shivering under a dirty blanket. Her face is twisted with sorrow as she stands alone….and I want to comfort her. I want to hold her and weep with her for her losses……take her home with me. But I’m here, and she is oh so far away.

I learned a long time ago that hopelessness is contagious. Letting despair and fear overtake me, disarms me, making me part of the problem rather than a key to the solution. So, as I sat on my sofa, choking back tears, I whispered a prayer for the people of Japan. It wasn’t an eloquent prayer, and I’m not even sure that my words made any sense. But it was a cry from the heart; a plea for help, and restitution, and I believe it helped.

The only other thing I know to do (other than sending them money; which is the first thing to do,) is to be willing to carry their terrified faces with me as I go through my refreshingly ordinary day, and let myself feel the bite of their sufferings. That is the only help I have left to offer. Sorrow inspires empathy and empathy inspires action. We are God’s hands reaching out to our brothers and sisters in Japan. They are a part of us..... no…..they are us.


Anonymous said...


Leah Griffith said...

Well said.

Cheryl said...

Leah, your writing is so heartfelt and beautiful. I agree that watching and listening is so difficult when we are all so far away. The position of not being able to be hands on in our help while others are suffering so, is frustrating. I cling to the hope that things will improve quickly esp. getting the power plants contained. So very tragic.

Leah Griffith said...

Hi Cheryl,
Thank you for the lovely compliment. Yeah, this one is so difficult. Words seem inadequate but hearts say it all. I still wish I could do something more.

Jayne said...

Leah, this is so thoughtful and beautiful. I feel much like you and had a lot of trouble writing about this disaster. It's an odd, almost "survivor's guilt" feeling, even though I'm halfway around the world. I also can't conceive of such horror. I finally wrote a blog about it yesterday, adding a few links--donation info. It's all we can do - send what financial help we can and keep Japan in our hearts.
I'm really enjoying reading your posts. You have a wonderful place here. :)

Leah Griffith said...

I agree Jayne, and I love how you put it.."survivor's guilt." So true...

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