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Day 75

Precious people have been blown open like sacks, their brains and organs unseaming.

The image hit me in the stomach as I walked past my daughter's room while she slept: each death a daughter or a son.

I don't watch graphic movies, and I have never seen traumatic violence, so the strength of this image stunned me, weakened me at the knees. I sat and began to write: Sudden violence is traumatic because it blows open what we thought we knew about life: that each person is a walking world, invincible and bursting with potential.

It blows open what I know about my daughter (deep into my bones, deeper than my own identity) that there is no way to describe her weight of worth. I know this means that each daughter or son is weightily worthy, but I can't fathom that. How can anyone fathom that? We receive children in order to learn this truth, but some don't even learn it about their children. Few learn it about themselves. Almost none learn it about strangers.

We are in a world of too-muchness. Too many words, too many images, too many tasks, too many people who pass whom we will never know. People used to pilgrimage (for days, weeks, months) just to see a single holy image, to attain a single book. Now the images and books come to us, covering us so completely that we can hardly breathe, and can certainly not see.

See what? That beauty is worthiness of existence and beams from every living person and thing, supplicating to be seen. That this, too, is morality: to hold a book as if it were a sacred thing, to search the pages as if they pulsated with importance. To stand before a painting and let it reach out and shake you, let it breathe down your neck as you walk away. This is preparation. This is practice for seeing a human as more than their superficiality, as more than the ideology which hangs awkwardly over their beautiful inner bodies, that clothes their speech in shame, that ties their tongues with anything but truth. In spite of our falsity, we humans are infinitely worthy of existence, are infinitely worthy of being seen.

To give a thing its proper worth. To fall upon an image and kiss it after a long pilgrimage. To fall upon a person.

We are not brave enough to practice this compassion. Every starving child and every wounded soldier would reach out of the news and rattle us, would weaken us at the knees. We would no longer live for ourselves, but learn to see ourselves in every suffering thing, learn to love actively in order to relieve that suffering.


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