Yesterday, I did something I’ve never done before. I cried for the world.
I came home from work, sat down in my favorite cozy chair with a cup of tea, and wept. I cried for Paris. I cried for the Syrian refugees. I cried for Beirut, Palestine and other war-torn countries. I cried for peaceful, law-abiding Muslims receiving the hateful backlash of fear.
I cried for the people in Haiti who are still living in tents with no running water. I cried for orphans. I cried for abused women.
I cried for the children in West Louisville who witness violence every day and all know someone who has been shot and killed.
I cried for my friend whose teenage daughter is suffering from depression and my other friend whose mother is in the hospital suffering excruciating pain while cancer eats away her spine.
I don’t know what it was about yesterday that made me crack. Perhaps the violence in Paris and the media coverage, the Facebook posts ranging from expressing solidarity to anger to outright rage, but it hit me hard. The reality and magnitude of suffering smacked me pretty much senseless, and I cried.
And then I prayed.
In my comfy chair, with tears streaming down my face, I prayed. Because that’s what we do when we feel that overwhelmed and desperate, right? We pray for answers. We pray for comfort. We pray for vision.
And I prayed for those very things. Why is this happening? Ease their suffering, God. What can I do to help?
And that is when it hit me why I was so upset. Yes, I do tend to carry the suffering of others in my heart. I allow the pain to weigh me down like a lead anchor dragging behind me, but what was even more distressing was how helpless I felt.
How small and insignificant am I in a world that is so big and broken? What can I do to help ease even a tiny bit of this global suffering?
I didn’t hear the voice of God at that moment. I sat there a little longer, wiped my face, then got up and changed my clothes to go to my other job teaching yoga. I led 26 beautiful people through poses and sequences, hoping I could keep it together for an hour, and finally, as they lay quietly in Savasana (corpse pose), I closed my eyes, too, and breathed in the stillness.
I let some of the weight go. My anchor became a little lighter. And God spoke from inside my heart.
Touch those you can touch. Love your family. Serve the people in your community. Hug the children and teachers that you work with. Teach your yoga students about living gratefully. Speak compassionately to strangers. And pray. And when you need to, cry.
Because ultimately this is God’s world. God is still in control, even amidst the chaos and suffering. We can get overwhelmed by the violence and hate speech, the misplaced fear that separates us from others who are different from us. We can feel like we are helpless little drops in an ocean of turmoil and wonder, where is God in all this?
But God told me a little secret yesterday.
God is here, under all the noise. Waiting quietly in your heart to comfort and heal. You are God’s hands and feet. You are God’s voice.
Touch those you can touch.
Author: Jennifer Pruitt
Editor: Toby Israel