Friday afternoon the terrorist attacks around the world certainly took our collective breath away. The stunning, horrific realities and the wild insecurity we can feel when somewhere familiar becomes unsafe is a potent storyteller. There is something in this though, that we can really listen to.
Things tend to happen in slow motion after this kind of news, almost like they do in our memories during scary recollections of a car accident or a big fall, because when some beloved familiar place is deemed unsafe we can tingle with such scare it pushes us towards vitality. It’s awareness. In ways, the fear these familiarities provoke shrinks the world, changes the scope of what is at stake every single day for every single one of us, and connects us again to how similar we are. Sounds have been crisper under our feet since Friday, the breeze on our face more notable this weekend, and all of a sudden the moment we’re in takes on quite a significance. We can feel so alive and connected to each other in this fear.
We all know fear hones priorities, even momentarily, and reminds us of the sincere gift of a day with those we love. With the news Friday the every day constructed problems at work or in our personal lives dim as the monumental relevance of connection, friendship, family, and freedom again takes on new light. This is a cycle, of course. We cannot hold the intensity and fears of our insecurity in our hands ALL the time to drive presence. Most of us can’t be mindful every single moment either. We’d be muzzled and paralyzed if we let this tincture of storytelling in too much too soon too constantly…but there’s this:
It’s Sunday now. All over the world today we’re waking up to a slightly different reality. The one after Friday’s news that has our innocence shed away again even so very slightly. We wake up and feel the weight of a child in our lap a little bit more, a small hand in our own — stretching us to the fridge to grab orange juice — fills out our palm unlike ever before. The fidelity with which we hear the little melodic signing as our children play and explore the space of a Sunday stuns. For these are the moments when the world really is in Technicolor, high-definition sound, and magnificently tactile. This morning even the warm floor in front of the fire felt a bit more precious under my toes.
That’s the bountiful gift fear gives us as parents as we reconcile how we live and nurture. We’re delivered mindfulness without such an effort. The blur is gone as we take in the stunning gift of the little lives in our midst.
For me the mindfulness began loudly on Friday afternoon — I was at work when the news of the attacks broke on twitter; my team and I tried to make sense of it. I left work to return to my boys and in the early evening through a steady, populating rain my family and I stepped out of the dark evening and into a church we’d never been. We weren’t there for a service rather a scheduled piano recital. My 7 year-old has only played this big instrument for 2 months and so when he opened the concert as the first little player I cannot begin to describe how much space those sparse notes held in the air. A little boy steps up to the piano with his music. A big, airy quiet church, pews full of families, and the tiny intentional notes pierce the quiet. Terror, war, and the imaginable act of killing vanishes as something beautiful begins. Just Mary Had A Little Lamb… Music, a small earnest player, and the gift of wild presence. I took the moment in, in a way I couldn’t have, without the fear I never wanted.
I say this: let us take the energy from this fear today and willingly splash around in this mindfulness. Use all of our senses to breathe in the wonder of our children as these stories of terror reckon with our hearts. This presence, this awareness, this tactile aliveness, this lucky-to-be-alive thinking is a great big gift. And the fear we feel can steer us into more every-day kindness from here forward. In my mind there’s no doubt that’s the beginning of the construction of bigger peace.