“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” Fred Rodgers
Trees are blooming all around on this bright spring day. May is rising with shoots and roots from the dark and barren winter. The seasons offer beautiful metaphors. This fall brought a strong and damaging storm that ripped trees from the ground. At first glance the destruction of the wind seemed overwhelming and sad. I walked each fall day into this chaos and wondered if things would ever be the same. The seasons rolled on and I walked through the falling of the last leaves, the blanket of snow, the muck and mud of early spring, pondering the landscape. Each day I saw something new in what, at first, appeared to be destruction.
Sometimes it is hard to imagine that there is beauty on the other side of such devastation. The trees mangled by the fall tornado provided great images for me as I walked through the seasons. One day I noticed a young sapling bracing the broken, hollowed out trunk of an old tree. The trees stood together. An image of hope. On another day I noticed that the woodpecker(s) had taken a tree completely apart – working persistently for days, weeks, possibly months or years to complete the task of feeding their young or building a house. I had yet another unique and inspiring view this morning as I was just about to leave the woods and head toward home. As I called Tootsie to join me, I saw a group of trees lying as they fell months ago in the storm, but as I looked more closely I saw buds on the branches of the fallen, mangled trees. Tiny, green buds – new life! Hope! I never would have thought those trees – ripped from the ground by the fury of nature would rise again.
When we are in the midst of a storm, a tornado, hearts and souls broken it is hard to imagine we will ever see the light again. Yet in the midst of the cold and dark moments friends gathered and shared hot coffee and warm food. On the Jersey Shore people traveled from far and wide to offer any help that they could in the midst of splintered homes and hearts. Stories of human kindness found their way to the news and the internet in the wake of this, and many other storms. Earthquakes, divorce, war, school shootings, bombs in Boston. Lives filled with episodes of destruction and sorrow. Sometimes broken hearts filled with grief can shatter and lose hope, grow in despair and bitterness. Sometimes broken hearts can crack, seeking light and love. The broken lend their voice, a picture, a song. We feel hope, we help. There are many hopeless and dark days where the knots of broken trees and branches are all that can be seen. Homes and lives twisted, hanging in the balance, changed forever. Much has changed since the storm ripped the trees from the ground this fall. Today I see possibility – the buds on the fallen trees. Tiny signs of hope. Hope that those with hate in their hearts will heal and violence will end, that we will honor the earth and all that it gives us, and that we will honor each other – despite our differences. Hope, that we will “look for the helpers”, like Mr. Rodgers, in times of despair and darkness and be comforted. Hope that broken hearts will be cracked open, not shatter, so we can let the light in and spread hope and joy.
I have found hope in the work of the Center for Courage and Renewal – Circle of Trust Retreats. The retreats offer a safe space to find hope and help us seek inner peace – calling on the better angels of our being. For more information visit The Center for Courage and Renewal and Kirkridge Retreat Center. Join me on May 22 – 24th for COMING HOME: THE JOURNEY TO THE UNDIVIDED LIFE or July 23 – 25 for LIVING IN THE SPACE BETWEEN: EXPLORING OUR INTERCONNECTEDNESS WITH THE EARTH AND OUR SELVES