do you feel it
the way the earth
for a soft and
to rest her tired head?
// a mother’s tired
Do you feel it?
It feels like it never ends, the earth crying out through fires, earthquakes, war, destruction, disease, division. There is a collective heaviness in the air. But it isn’t anything new. It’s always been there, hasn’t it? Just not always for people who look like me.
Because as a cisgender, white, American woman, I was born with a privilege that means I only have to pay attention to the heaviness sometimes – like when it hits the headlines or gathers in my friend’s Instagram stories and I repost as some sort of meager display of activism or when it affects my life in some (usually small) way.
I have been aware of this privilege since I was a young girl, always wondering about why I was born to exist in this time and space, with this body, this skin. I wonder why so many trivial things take up so much of my energy. But then, how do you decide what is frivolous in a time when self-care is promoted as a way to better equip ourselves to care for the world (which I am a strong advocate for)?
And how do you even live your life – raise children, rest, nourish your body, make art and work and meaning and try to embody compassion – knowing what is happening outside of your own insulated bubble?
All while knowing that the parts you can actually see are only a sliver of all the pain.
As a child, I remember statistics being used to coerce me into charity, lines like “a child dies from starvation every 2 seconds” and I’d lie in bed and with each blink think about someone suddenly no longer able to even crawl from starvation or suffering abuse or becoming an orphan or…it went on and on until I couldn’t bear to think about it anymore.
Which feels fair, because it’s a lot to process – imagining so much of the world in pain, knowing you have never experienced half of it. And for that, you are both grateful and humbled and uncertain of anything you ever believed about yourself or fate or calling or faith.
So, we tend to look away, after a little while anyway.
We get used to the statistics, humans with their own complex stories simply becoming numbers we have somehow avoided joining ourselves. We might think it is out of some virtue – as if we are “hashtag-blessed” or some other nonsense that keeps us alive and others suffering. Really, it’s just luck and some rank of privilege we did nothing to deserve. Nonetheless, our worlds remain less affected and we move on through our days tending to our work, families, recreation and the minor inconveniences that have become yet another trending hashtag: #firstworldproblems
Once in a while though, the hard edges of life thrust into our view and there is nothing else that feels more important. We feel helpless, hopeless, numb. And I look at the world, this place that cares for us in abundance – air to breathe, beauty to heal our souls and bodies, materials to create with, a place to call home – and see her worn out and fighting for all of us.
But mothers need rest, too. And she has been crying out for far too long.
On the days I think God must still exist, I am much more drawn to the feminine qualities that we know, qualities of tenderness and a protective and fierce love that gathers her children together.
So there is our tired mother-earth, trying to survive in the midst of humans forgetting the ancient and deep calling to care for her in return for the gift of life we receive. And then there is the Mother-Source, tired of her children taking so much for their own, refusing to make sure everyone has enough, ignoring their lonely and suffering neighbors, forgetting what real love looks like; that the divine dwells within each of us.
I have no perfect answers for how to “fix” what is broken. Or how to hold the tension of taking care of ourselves and tending to the sorrow of our day.
But, at the very least – I hope to keep looking, until their pain is “our” pain, too.
Not to center it as our own tears and story – but to hold enough empathy that we will do what it takes to break down the systems maintaining the suffering and exploitation of so many.
We can dream bigger. We can take risks. We can give up something we want for something someone else needs. We can step up and care for our divine siblings in a way that lets our Mothers breathe again.
This is our deepest calling and the only thing I can have faith in – we belong to one another and the way forward is side-by-side.