Living in the Tension between Joy and Sorrow

Over the last week, a lot of tragedy has been happening around the world, from senseless violent crime at a local level to multiple terrorist acts that have affected global citizens. Add to that Congress’ vote to slash funding for SNAP, and you wind up with an Ellayne who wants to crawl into a cave and shut out everything.

Although none of these tragedies have personally affected me, the depth of these tragedies kept me from writing about them sooner. When I woke up on Saturday and learned of Congress’ vote to cut funds to the food stamps program, I wanted to write about it, how widespread those effects will be, how it’s a classist, racist, and xenophobic vote, but then I learned of the shootings at the mall in Nairobi, and I felt shell-shocked. Over the past few days, I watched as the number of victims in Nairobi climbed. I learned about the various men and women who lost their lives–a Ghanaian poet, Dutch and Peruvian doctors, and so many more–and I felt the loss of these brilliant souls.

I learned, belatedly, about the shootings in Chicago, where a 3 year old child was shot in the face. I heard about the shooting in DC at the Navy Yard. And all through these various events, my life went on, and it seems so wrong that while people mourned these deep wounds, I took a painting class on Saturday night and went to a Denison Witmer concert on Sunday, that I enjoyed my weekend of reconnecting with my husband. And, starting yesterday, my latest school term started, and I’m in my first full week of work at my new job. Finally, my personal life seems to be righting itself.

How does a person find a way to reconcile such horrors with such comforts? I wish I had an answer that was not a vapid cliche. “Life goes on” is an insult to those whose loved ones were ripped from them. “Things will work out eventually” cannot comfort a single mother who faces even greater poverty.

So I’m not going to give an answer. I’m leaving myself in unresolved tension. I think to live any other way would be to overlook the suffering all around me, and I can’t pretend that I don’t see it just so that I will feel better.

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2 thoughts on “Living in the Tension between Joy and Sorrow

  1. Beautifully and marvelously put! Thank you for sharing your perspective. I am with you on that. And I will read what you wrote again and think on it more.

    • I appreciate the support! On my facebook page, a reader commented that sorrow can be revolutionary, and I think that definitely adds to this conversation. There is value in allowing ourselves to feel the pain of sorrow, rather than to sweep it under the rug and pretend it’s not there.

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