What to say on a morning after a bombing in Manchester that seemed to target children and teens attending a concert?
I could talk about the first news story I heard, about cab drivers who took children home, even though they had no money. I could talk about hearing of hotels who sheltered unaccompanied children. I am always heartened by the ways that humans come together in a crisis.
I thought about posting a poem that had something specific to say about terrorism. But I don't have many of them, and the ones that I do have are not quite right this morning. I clicked on a poem in my files called "Safe"; it's about what happens when Jesus joins the baseball team. It pleased me, but again, I'm not sure it's quite right this morning.
Instead, let me offer this poem. Maybe it will cheer us as we remember our own days of eating GORP. Maybe the thought of falling safely asleep under a wide open sky will remind us that terrorist events really are few and far between.
Let us remember how the natural world can heal us. Let us pray for all who need healing.
Heading for the Hills
I recognized the menace in the murky waters.
I never felt my family’s fellow joy
in the ocean. I refused
to wade deeper than my ankles.
I saw how the sea seduced
people, luring them with lapping
waves, then sucking them out into the depths.
I did not even collect shells. If the ocean thought
I would be enticed that easily,
it could think again. I knew of its creepy
creatures that crawled across the dark bottom,
the currents that swirled at cross
purposes. I wanted no part.
I preferred our mountain escapes. Content
to hike the tallest parts of the state, I filled
my pack full of water and trail mix, home made
Gorp, that magical mix of cereal and peanuts,
raisins and candy. I loved to sleep
in a mummy bag that hugged my shape
and kept me safe. We ate dinners
made out of reconstituted powders and got along
in ways we never did in the flat plains
of every day life. My sister and I gathered
firewood and played cards, collected leaves
and tried to whistle like the birds.
In the mountains, I knew the contours
of possible catastrophe, and it didn’t frighten
me. I knew how to work the snakebite
kit (which I shouldn’t ever have to use, if I made sure
to walk with heavy footsteps). I knew the bears
were far more interested in my candy than in munching
me. I knew the force of gravity would not suck
me off the mountainside, that we would safely sleep
beneath the stars after we counted all the constellations.
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