Last week after hearing of our earthquake and the coming hurricane, a friend from California emailed me asking, “What’s Next?” Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball, but then I rethink saying, “No, that isn’t what I want.”
On days like today, what I truly desire is for everyone, (those I know and don’t know) to be free from suffering. That includes all creatures, great and small. I sit and do a loving kindness meditation and then ruminate on what I can do. More often that not, I find myself drowning in overwhelming guilt, unable to do more than donate some money if it is needed and stay out-of-the-way of those who have the skills to truly be of help.
Today is no exception. As I listen to news from Vermont, hard hit by Tropical Storm Irene, where I spent 20 years of my life and where many of my friends and relatives live, my heart is breaking. There is a story from my sister-in-law, who lives in Burlington, whose friend’s husband went out yesterday evening to bring in his dogs during the height of the raging weather. He has not been seen or heard from since. His wife and kids were rescued later, from their home, where mud slides were rushing towards them. I wait with hope and prayers that there will be a happy reunion.
I’ve spoken with my brother, Zed, and my nephew, Jesse. They are fine, but I don’t know the fate of many friends who live along creeks and rivers that have turned to thunderous torrents, overrunning their banks, taking trees and buildings with them. For a state like Vermont, small and populated by many elderly and poor people, this is a tragic situation.
Sitting here in Central Virginia, where the sun is shining and Irene never knocked, it is difficult for me to fathom. How could I possibly know the pain if I haven’t been there to experience it. I can and do, however, carry the pain of a bystander, wanting to jump into the mire to pull them all out, knowing I’d most likely drown before I could be of assistance, only causing more sorrow.
I had hoped to go to Vermont this summer to visit, but life has run away with me, leaving me little time to take on the kind of trip I’d wanted. One in which I could spend long afternoons with friends and family members; talking, remembering and taking in their stories. A four or five-day trip wouldn’t cut it, but it would have been better than nothing, I suppose.
I didn’t make the trip and rather than be filled with regrets, I’ll move forward, holding those that I haven’t seen in such a long time, in my heart … my nephew, Ben, who is now a first year student at UVM, my nieces, Julia, whom I haven’t yet met, and Anya, bright and beautiful. There are many others. I will get there. The storm, by the name of Irene, has reminded me once again, that here on earth, time flies by faster than a rocket to Mars.
P.S. The man who disappeared last evening, has been found and is OKAY!