Greetings from the Australian rainforest, where birds sing soggy songs after so much rain.
The sun is elbowing clouds aside as best it can, and I am grateful to see the small holes of blue coming and going.
Today is my dear dead Dad’s birthday, and I’m staying quietly at home. Normally, as my honouring ritual, I oil his antique French furniture; this year, there’s too much mould trying to get a grip, so I’m refusing to feed the spores with expensive linseed and orange blossom.
Today is also the monthly Women’s Dharma Day meditation meeting, and I needed it so much. More than I knew.
As I wrote last time, I’ve been volunteering daily with Resilient Lismore, a Facebook group formed to help my nearby beloved Lismore (and surrounds) deal with flood recovery. It started in 2017, as a response to the Cyclone Debbie flood, with 3000 members. Now we’ve had 2 catastrophic floods a month apart, including landslides and massive devastation, so subsequently have almost 30,000 members.
I’m one of the team of ‘Moderators’, monitoring page comments/posts/requests for help/offers of help. It’s a mammoth task, but feels incredibly worthwhile, and suited to my skillsets.
Plus I’m good at it.
But there is a never-ending river of stories of loss, struggle, confusion, anger, kindness, grief, and utter devastation.
People have literally lost everything.
I may not be sweating it out in overalls and gumboots, hosing mud from houses, or throwing entire lives onto piles of wet, ruined, mouldy belongings, but I feel like I am in the trenches with the Lismore folk nevertheless.
But sometimes I don’t sign up for a daily shift; I stare into space from my verandah, or slowly pick small weeds close to the house, throwing them into a tin bucket.
Sometimes I visit one of many flood-traumatized friends, and help with driving salvaged belongings down ghostly streets full of abandoned damaged houses, listening to them debrief their struggle over and over again.
Sometimes I plant seedlings in my still-soggy veggie garden, reminding the spinach and parsley that the sun IS coming again, and that we NEED their healthy greenery in our food.
Today, I needed my meditation group. I’d seen our teacher, Carol, volunteering at the iconic “Trees Not Bombs” café in central Lismore, which serves free food all day every day to hungry flood survivors. I asked her to teach about ‘resilience’, and the pressure that concept can create on us to be ‘strong’, to be ‘coping’, and to be ‘bouncing back better than ever’.
She called her teaching ‘There are no words’, and it was PERFECT.
“When something so vast, so destructive, so incomprehensible happens, we literally have no vocabulary for it,” she said.
I could be referring now to the nightmare in Ukraine, to the war crimes being committed? Or to the killing floods in South Africa? I can be talking about climate change, or a global pandemic, or the double flood in my local town from which I don’t know if we will ever recover.
It’s all TOO MUCH.
And Carol just told us to sit with it with no words.
She was so right: I burst into tears. And felt deep relief that it was OK I’d been struggling so hard to not be OK; that it was understandable I couldn’t find words for my blog, or at a dinner with friends when I sat in silence.
She counselled us to truly BE in our hopeless grief/confusion/loss, and let others BE in theirs. This will bring a soft empathetic way of being with Self and Others, creating an intimacy with our shared humanity, and thus compassion.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
So here I am: finding words, but not many. Sharing my sadness, and feeling yours. Despairing at the next global loss, and resting so I am ready for it.
Trying times indeed, everywhere.
And I am free to have no words for it, which is sweet relief.
Love to you all, G xOOO