Along with millions of others I recently viewed a photo on Facebook of a group of elderly women at La Vita Bella nursing home in Dickinson, Texas. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey they sat in water up to their waists waiting to be rescued. Not exactly the Beautiful Life they had expected. One resident did craft work, others just sat and waited. How does one keep one’s self stable and centered when fear stands watch outside the door threatening to knock it down? As I’ve continued to ask myself that this week a memory of another tragedy caught my attention.
September 11, 2001. An eerie, out-of-character silence had settled on my class of seventeen-year-olds as we waited for news of a sighted but now missing hijacked airplane. Two had already crashed into the twin towers. A wail shattered the silence, emitted from a slumped-over manchild. “Where is my brother? He isn’t answering his phone. WHERE IS MY BROTHER?” How does one keep one’s self stable and centered when fear stands watch outside the door threatening to knock it down?
One day at a time, one choice at a time. In another era we would have said one self-denial at a time. As a young nun in pre-Vatican II days I wore sacrifice beads and pulled one down with each denial. Please. Meister Eckhart fiercely condemns such practices as blocks to birthing the real God in our lives. I think we prepare for those times of no control with the practice of relinquishing control. By letting go of the need to control we become free and able to endure lack of control. We can let go of our need to have the last word, the most stunning idea, the brilliant psychoanalysis of our neighbor. By living outside of our egos we learn to live inside of ourselves where we are sparks of the divine. If we address the fear which stands outside our door from that place, we know how to wait for the rescue.
For the Women of La Vita Bella
Cold water rising
Strong women reap peace past sown
Fear flees in its wake
rita h kowats 9-4-17
Photo Credit Hands: creative commons https://pixabay.com
Photo CreditLa Vita Bella: Trudy Lampson via AP