Monday, March 14, 2011

Witness

near Lake Arrowhead, this weekend, CA


I find myself paralyzed to write anything on this blog in the wake of the unfolding tragedy in Japan. I went on a camping trip with my boys this weekend in the mountains around Lake Arrowhead and took some beautiful photos, but I just don't have the heart to post anything.

I feel so ineffectual -- as most people do, I'm sure -- in the face of the devastation in Japan. Sending money, praying for relief for the people -- it all seems so lame. We live in a present that shows us with all too much clarity and vividness the past -- the images of the quake's and the tsunami's aftermath are impossible not to scroll through -- and I wonder if it's voyeurism but hope that the witnessing of the suffering can in some way help to assuage it. I have to think that being a witness to suffering and to irreparable loss is in some way a necessity while also leaving one in an almost unsolvable quandary -- that we are all connected but often helpless to those connections. 

22 comments:

  1. You described my feelings perfectly.

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  2. Elizabeth, I too feel so ineffectual, even at talking with my kids about the devastation and loss and trying to answer their question, "how can we help?" I have been stymied by just how stymied I feel about that question. I am glad I am not the only one. One thing that struck me in one of the news reports was the stoicism and dignity of the Japanese people, the absence of chaos (beyond that wrought by nature), and the beauty in that; the elegance of the people in the face of tragedy. Dignity -- and loss of it -- is something we think about more often as parents of children who have a disability. Maybe that's why that struck me?

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  3. I think the bearing witness provides an alchemy to the heart. I think to not look away, to bear witness is what allows our hearts to become open and compassionate in the face of others pain, especially when the temptation to turn away is great. I think having an open heart is the first and most important step towards being of practical use in this world.

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  4. I'm feeling paralyzed about this as well. I don't even have the words to comment.

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  5. Well said. It is such a numbing reality. I read that the Japanese, per capita, give the most to those in need when tragedy strikes. I hope it comes back to them in every way they could possibly need. It still won't be enough.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  6. I think "feeling" is a huge first step and holding space for their suffering and devastation is a gift in itself. Yes, there are concrete things to be done if we can, but ultimately the healing power of sending love and light are immense.

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  7. It all happened when I was on the island and I wasn't listening to the news and it's so odd- did it really happen? Of course. But I think that my non-awareness hasn't hurt anyone at all.
    Is that wrong, is that weird?
    Of course now I am aware but I don't think that's doing anyone any damn good.

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  8. I feel stunned and grief-stricken, too. Just mute.
    One of my oldest friends passed away while we were in Cali, and I want to write a tribute to him, but feel mute in the wake of this enormous devastation. Been cleaning house today...necessary, but perhaps also symbolic. I wish I could help the Japanese people with their cleanup.

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  9. Ms. Moon -- I actually think that awareness is everything. If I were a Japanese person, I would want everyone to be aware of my and others' plight. I imagine despair is proportional to awareness, in these circumstances.

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  10. Elizabeth, I know how you feel, but with a houseful of college kids, I have the odd sensation that Japan is happening in another universe, and i travel back and forth between them, and I am trying so hard not to lose the moments of sweetness while my kids are here, trying so hard not to let the sad take over.

    i would love to see the pictures you took of your weekend with your children. i think part of bearing witness to the tragedy unfolding in Japan is to hold what we have close, to really recognize and cherish it without apology for what is good. We have no idea what tomorrow holds for us, but if today holds some gold in its hands, seize that.

    I understand the spiraling, dear Elizabeth. I really do. Perhaps it helps to know you have company? Sending you love.

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  11. Elizabeth what an incredible photo. I am moved. And awed.

    The same core-of-the-earth power that thrust those mountains into the sky and created the lake in the crater rocked the other side of the world this weekend. We live on the skin for a moment.

    The only thing we can do is see and know and help in whatever small way. Money, thought,prayer.

    The cauldron beneath the surface was here before we existed and will be here when we're gone.

    When I struggled with cancer I found an odd comfort in knowing I was just a grain of sand, that life and creation would go on when I didn't.

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  12. Elizabeth what an incredible photo. I am moved. And awed.

    The same core-of-the-earth power that thrust those mountains into the sky and created the lake in the crater rocked the other side of the world this weekend. We live on the skin for a moment.

    The only thing we can do is see and know and help in whatever small way. Money, thought,prayer.

    The cauldron beneath the surface was here before we existed and will be here when we're gone.

    When I struggled with cancer I found an odd comfort in knowing I was just a grain of sand, that life and creation would go on when I didn't.

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  13. The moment I saw the title,I thought of another of my favorite musicians,Ben Harper.He has a song called,"Blessed to be a Witness."Really amazing live, with these very cool drums.Haunting and spiritual and well,just wanted to share if you care to pull it up on youtube.

    Thinking of you friend and that incredible heart of yours.Hoping the camping was all you wished it to be.

    Keeping Japan close in thought and prayer.

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  14. well said .... I am finding it hardest to watch the faces etched with grief and disbelief and worry and shock and weariness. It is like hell.

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  15. What can you say. Haiti. Christchurch. Japan. It is all so close together and all so horrific.

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  16. i am with kario on this one. "feeling is a huge first step and holding the space for their suffering and devastation is a gift in itself."

    this is how we live most vitally. share loss, bear witness,
    open our hearts, pray, hold each other in love. i believe in the power of being present for each other.

    right now we need to be present for the world.

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  17. It's not lame. It's not just your witnessing, but your FEELING and caring that matters, that makes a difference. Your energy helps, I believe that.

    I dreamed of you again, this weekend, and about just you and your boys. That's weird. I remember waking thinking why am I dreaming of Elizabeth and Oliver? I know partly it's your new photo on your comments, your face is so bright and kind and lovely. I don't remember the dream. Just remember your sweetness and mothering.

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  18. I hope you'll post the pics, or feel like posting them, soon.

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  19. I have been talking about part of what you are saying with Mr. Curry. The witnessing...is it FOR anything? I was thinking of a blog post at some point. It's horrible.

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  20. I forgot to say how much I love your picture. I mean..wow. That is special, Elizabeth.

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  21. Your photo is so beautiful and so apt for this post. I cannot grasp this tragedy and I have not been able to focus so much on the devastation at hand because I am unable to stop looking at the disaster looming in the form of nuclear reactors in the process of melting down.

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