JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

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September 9th, 2005 · 3 Comments

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I’ve felt like stained glass in the past week. Fragile. Broken. In pieces.

How long will there be rape and murder? How long will we have oppression, suffering and poverty? How long will the world be filled with pain? Yes, I’m speaking about what I’m seeing on the tv screen from Katrina and reading in blogs [here, here and here for example], but even as I’ve read blog posts on other topics in the past week [ for example, here here and here] my heart has ached. There’s rottenness in a country where dead people rot, propped in lawn chairs, and where many watch their teeth and bodies rot because they can’t afford medical care. There’s violation in a world where women are routinely violated. There’s grievance in a world where we grieve the loved ones we have lost, robbed of life by murderers and disasters, with names such as cancer and Katrina.

Sorrow has shaken me. I came into the end of August exhausted after a fun but intense summer. While we spent the past weekend relaxing with friends, I also spent it in tears, tired in every way. I grieve for the suffering I see. I grieve for the suffering I read. Yet I’ve been hesitant to write this. Who am I, among the wealthiest in the world, to claim I am in pain?

Through blogs and emails I’ve learned many people are aching. Some from the results of Katrina. Some simply from observing the havoc of a hurricane. But others experience storms inside them, in their families, in their communities.

I’ve had my own storms this summer. Private sorrows I can’t share here. And the sadness of friends whose burdens I try to carry as I can. One day last week I received two emails, each describing a brain tumor that had been diagnosed this summer.

In the past week I’ve read stories of a musician who cracked. And this brokenness has helped me with my own broken pieces.

Even though I am not a disaster survivor, like Evelyn Rodriguez, I felt I could understand her post that described her heart breaking open and her year of losses.

So, in the grand scheme of things, the tsunami wasn’t that hard on me, myself.

However it was the first time my heart reached out to so many
others. I literally felt the collective pain and suffering throughout the Indian Ocean. And that bowled me over.

Dave Pollard asked How then, I would like to know, do you maintain your resilience? The answers in his comments are helpful. I know that getting rest and sleep and intentionally taking a slower pace this week have helped me recharge physically. And from the physical refreshment, the emotional and spiritual have followed.

I’ve tried to wake early and go for long walks soon after sunrise, long walks, where I cry and yell at the sky. The pain has broken open my heart in new ways. I’m beginning to be able to pray again. Even if I can only ask How long?

As I’ve cried and talked, I’ve realized. Taking time to walk among the trees as the sun rises gives me energy. Confessing my emotions can be powerful.

When I hurt, I am most human. People are imperfect and we will always have pain, whether from the environment, or each other. The hurt I’ve felt in life allows me in little ways to experience other’s hurt, to have an open heart, to want to try to do what I can to help.

How long? I think I will always be hungry. I hope I will always ache. I hope, in some sense, I’m never happy in this crazy life. I hope I’m always hurting and willing to help those who hurt. Sometimes out of overload or overwhelmed, I turn off my heart. But I hope can always weep with those who weep.

I see more how God is not like people. Once I was furious at God for allowing suffering. But now I see many of the messes in life are ones we have made as people, people imperfect and selfish, like me. The more I see of the messes inside me and others, the more I want to believe in God.

People are fragile like glass. Yet we are also sharp enough to cut each other. I’ve broken. But I’ve also cut. I’ve failed in loving others. I feel I’ve failed too as a blogger.

I’ve felt too fragile to write here. Sometimes blogs don’t seem a safe place to share what’s happening inside. I felt guilty for taking a break but at the same time, I knew I needed it. Blogging comes with responsibilities. I had to wait to be strong enough both to put out what was inside me and to take whatever I receive as a response. Still I’m not sure I’ve written this piece well, but I want to share what I’ve been thinking, to be true to who I am and true to what I post here.

I even thought about taking a break from reading blogs. But then when I read David Weinberger’s topical application of coffee (had to smile at that one) or badgerbag’s posts from volunteering in the Astrodome, my spirit is cheered. My sorrow lessens. And I know I need to be here.

Kathy Sierra says that if you brain had a bumper sticker it would say I heart conversations. I heart conversations is also the bumper sticker on my heart. And I heart community.

For we are all fragile. Certainly Katrina shows us how quickly we can lose life. We are all like glass. And when we can come together as the broken pieces we are, together we can make something beautiful and glorious in its translucence.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jean // Sep 10, 2005 at 12:28 pm

    Julie, you did write it well! and every sharing of feeling fragile and weary is a gift of strength to those who read it.

  • 2 Daisy // Sep 11, 2005 at 4:26 pm

    Hi Julie
    If you haven’t been to my blog lately, you’ll read my tales of sorry about my hometown NOLA washing away. My parents are with me now in Tampa but we’re so much luckier than most.

  • 3 jenny // Sep 18, 2005 at 12:11 pm

    I want to use the word “proud” when I tell you how I feel about you creating this post… but it’s not the perfect word. I know this was a big challenge for you. I admire the risk you took, and the enormity of your heart. You feel so deeply because you have a beautiful, roomy, and loving heart. I know this was a big deal on so many levels and your openess is admirable and brave. You write so lovely, even in things that are so difficult.

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