I remember looking at the full moon outside my apartment window in Brooklyn the night of September 11th. It had been a trying day. 2,753 people had just died that morning 3 miles away from the comfort of my home. I could still smell the smoke from the burning twin towers in my apartment. It was the stench of death. I had never been that close to tragedy. Never that intimate with it.
I was numb. I was angry. I was terrified. I remember looking at the moon that night and thinking, “How can the moon still be shining its light so bright in the midst of all this chaos, suffering, and death?” I was judging the moon for having the audacity to shine its light so brightly, even critiquing it for keeping on with the business of life during such a tragic time. But I couldn’t take my gaze off that light. I needed it. It comforted me.
I needed the light of the moon because it reminded me that even in the midst of human suffering, and violence, and death…. life perseveres. People that day wanted to bring about mass destruction for their cause, but they couldn’t kill the light of the moon. I felt some sort of comfort in that. So I wept mighty tears, let the anger boil up inside of me, wrestled with my hopelessness and kept my eyes on that moon. I kept my eyes on the moon, waiting for the night to pass and for a new day to come.
As I reflect on the violence we have witnessed in the recent years….the past month….the past 10 days, I think about that moonlight on 9-11 and what it taught me about tragedy, about suffering, about violence, about life. I offer to you the wisdom I got from that moonlight as one of many ways to move through these difficult times.
Life has the final word.
This is a call to faith and vision. One of my favorite quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King states, “The arc of the Universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Look around you. Even in the midst of destruction, life fights its way through – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Grass sprouting through cracks in the concrete, nurse logs giving nourishment to new plants and trees, the devotion of the sun rising and setting. Look at history. Eventually justice prevails, eventually truth reigns, eventually love wins. Look to your own life. The tragedy and turmoil you may have faced. You are still standing, still breathing. You have endured. Maybe a bit tattered and worn…. but you are here. There is great power in the life force, look to this for hope and strength.
Find the light.
This is a call to inner healing and self-care. Don’t become the energy behind these attacks on humanity. Accept that the energy of that same violence is in you too. Draw wisdom from that. Don’t become it, transform it. Find whatever feeds you, gives you hope, makes you feel loved and bask in its glow. Let it fill you up, comfort you, nourish you and give you strength and wisdom and courage. I invite you right now to stop and take a deep breath. Pause. Breathe again. Take a moment to reflect on the things that bring you joy, nourishment, and love in your life. Receive them fully. You can do this physically by surrounding yourself with those things or you can practice this mentally and spiritually by receiving the energy of those things through the power of your thoughts. Hold these intentions of self-care and inner healing close to you. It is an act of tending to life, your life, which is also part of the work of justice-making and peace-making.
Be the light.
This is a call to action. We cannot be silent. We cannot be apathetic. We cannot be paralyzed by our sadness and pain. Do something. Anything. Even in your stillness. And trust that others are doing something too. There is life and light in our thoughts and in our actions. Collectively we work to shift consciousness, to shift policy, to shift institutions. We are everyday people. Move and shift-shape your circle, your family, your community, this world. Be a beacon for a new day to come right now. You may or may not live to see that new day, but in any case know you will be part of ushering it in for someone else. Your ancestors did that for you.
In remembrance of and dedicated to…
“It is in life that we find life; life is all around us. Be certain to see the beauty of life in all of its forms, draw spiritual energy from life continuously renewed from the lands that ground our feet and the airs that breathe life in our physical bodies. Life is the light. Love, both physical and spiritual, brings peace. It is our inner peace that can guide our steps, center our understandings, and keep the light aflame. Undoubtedly, life and love are always shining – we have to see it, believe it, step into it, and invite others into it as well. Love was never meant to be an individual adventure.”
-Dr. Derrick Brooms
Photo credit: A full moon captured July 18, 2008. NASA/Sean Smith