Yesterday I drove on roads that serve as the backdrop for both my childhood and my previous life. As I drove by the long road that leads to my Granny’s house I heard the echoes of voices from the past–my cousins, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my folks. As the car whizzed by, I saw landmarks of times that were less than happy, and that brought back a whole different set of memories.
And then I turned onto another back road and saw this:
This is across the road from the house where one of my sweet friends lived when we were growing up. I think her folks still live there now. I spent many a happy day at their home–it was my first experience with a two-story house. But this, this across the road, up until recently was woods. Covered with trees like the ones you see in the background. The picture just does not do justice to what it really feels like looking at this cleared area.
I was driving home yesterday when I saw this, and it suited where my heart was at the moment. And it occurred to me that this is what it feels like when you are devastated.
Like when someone you’ve trusted with your heart, your life, your everything, hurts you with lies, abuse, lack of respect…..and just walks away seemingly unscathed. Or when you hear the diagnosis of someone you love most in the world and you know that each tick of the clock has become your enemy and time is the most precious thing you have. Or when Plan B falls apart, and even though there are 26 letters of the alphabet, you just don’t have any plans beyond the first two. There just are no words for this. Except maybe–
The land across from my friend’s house has been ravaged. I’m not sure by what, but whether by storm, tornado, or manmade machinery, the results are the same. Loss of life, of beauty, of soul. Much like our own souls when we have been ravaged by grief, loss, disappointments, fear, infidelity, betrayal. Such devastation can make us almost lifeless and ugly, filled with internal scars that others can’t see, but they eventually come to the surface as anger, sadness, confusion, passivity, and all kinds of other physical and mental symptoms.
I’ve seen this quote a lot. It’s made its rounds throughout social media. But the truth is this is truth. That Plato knew what he was talking about. Not everyone’s scars make their story obvious like Harry Potter’s. Because of his lightning bolt scar on his forehead, people instantly knew who he was and his story as well. But for us it’s not that easy. Some of the worst things one can go through leave no visible scars; but the pain and loss, they are still there. It’s important to remember that, as we judge others like we tend to do and jump to incorrect and unkind conclusions.
As for the ravaged land, it can come back, depending what the plans are for it. Hope and little bitty roots waiting to grow again spring eternal just under the surface. With kindness and attention to the life that still remains, it can become green and vibrant again.
And that’s the thing–if we can always be kind, if we can stop judging and condemning and thinking everyone else is so different and we are so much better, then and ONLY THEN can we stop the ravaging of souls. Right now. It’s the death of a spirit, which doesn’t get reported as often as you might think. That spirit with the right loving people around CAN get better and grow strong again.
And if, when the wind blows really hard and the rain beats down, those little tendrils of new growth shake and are weighed down by all that is around them, that’s okay. We all have those moments (some longer than others) that weigh us down. That’s where the rest of us come in. IF we are kind, and if we can love as we truly should, and we sit with folks through these storms, they can get through it, and continue on down the road, past the devastation.
And in the midst of the brokenness and pain of this world, that’s a hope to hang on to.