Today is the seventh anniversary of my youngest brother's suicide. Today the roofers are here with their compressor and hammering. The wind last night was so fierce, I thought the tarps I've been living under would shred and fly away. Two days ago the ruling came down from Ferguson and that night there was gunfire in my neighborhood all night. This morning I went to my community gym where a cross section of ethnicities come together to exercise. This morning the seniors were doing their calisthenics while four of us grunted and sweated through our workouts.
My neighborhood is primarily Asian. My block is white and black and Filipino and Chinese. Just down the hill from my house the grocery store suffered a few broken windows. Frustration. Fear. Anger. The justice system doesn't treat us equally, does it? Of course we know this.
What to do?
Am I part of the problem or part of the solution? I sold my house last summer and moved here because my old neighborhood had become too monochromatic. Too wealthy. Too smug. I feel more comfortable in this little house among cultures and colors than I did there. And I know more of my neighbors than I did after thirteen years in my old neighborhood.
I know the man two doors down is living with AIDS. I know that Cliff is a retired vet and he DJs on the weekends. And he has a collection of beautiful vintage cars. I know the Filipino man who I bought this house from has a wife and twin daughters and his father lives in the house next to mine. I've met the retired nurse who planted an English garden that she could tend in her retirement but her back is too bad to work outside at all. I've met the man who loves his pit bull. The elderly Muslim family has welcomed me to the neighborhood. I attended the wedding of the couple on the other side of my house. She sold me a gas stove she had in her basement. I gave her the water fountain from my back yard. All in four months.
The Sun this month is focussing on caring. What it means to care.
"The friend who cares makes it clear that whatever happens in the external world, being present to each other is what really matters. In fact, it matters more than pain, illness, or even death."
-Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life
What I've noticed is the courage it takes to be awake to 'the cries of the world'. I think of Rebecca offering coats and food to the hookers near her home. Or Mary's tender care of her Florida patch and the family and friends she cherishes. My sister midwives who go the extra mile for a woman or her family in need. There is no price tag for that kind of compassion. Indeed, it is priceless.
To care for this broken world takes great courage. And the willingness to be heart broken daily. And to stay with it instead of withdrawing.
As for my brother. Geoffrey, my darling. Please forgive me for being flawed. Forgive me for my anger and judgement. Your wicked ways came from your own unendurable pain. Forgive me, dear baby brother.
Thinking of you, Dirk and Annie, on this bad ole day.
May you be safe from inner and outer harm. May you be happy just as you are. May you be well. May you be free. May you be free.
May we all be free.