For much of my life, I have felt like an outsider looking in. Peering in through a window or a doorway, a fence or a gate, at the action and feeling “apart” from it all. Wishing I were a part of things, but feeling separate.
There are moments in films, when the action slows down, and the protagonist begins to move in slow motion and things start to sound louder in his/her head and clank and crash about and you see him/her walk away slowly to move away from the crowd so as to compose him/herself. Those are the moments when I feel the director pulling us up close in order to feel our own humanity. What it feels like to feel alone and alienated amidst a crowd and amidst the noise inside your head all at once.
After experiencing a very traumatic loss nearly a decade ago, I began to recapitulate relationships which were beautiful and strong and loving and which would ultimately fail, thereby creating loss again. This happened several times over the last decade although I am sure I am not alone. But what I have seen is that I have become more and more withdrawn, even as it is not my nature to be that way. More and more isolated, and more and more reclusive.
During Hurricane Sandy, a neighbor of mine offered me a chance to shower in her home because she had electricity and finally one day, I accepted. It was one of the most nurturing moments I had experienced during that week and one I barely allowed myself because there were other issues to tend to on that same day.
Just a few days ago, a community of neighbors of a dear friend of mine gathered together to bake pies to bring to Newtown, CT to help with the grief effort there. When I arrived at the home, it was bustling with people all cutting and slicing. Everyone was doing something. And everything was running like clockwork, even as the smoke alarm went off several times.
So many people filled this house and without question, showed up simply to help. It was awe-inspiring to me (someone who grew up on the outside and then began to re-inscribe that idea that I was somehow “safer” on the outside). My heart felt so safe because I was there simply for the purpose of giving. I wasn’t there to speak about myself. I wasn’t there to do what I could not do. And I was proud to watch myself tend to those places. Whereas in the past, I would’ve lifted a house over my head, given my recovery status, I was not lifting anything. But work, I did. I sliced apples as thinly as I possibly could and at one point, I was so enamored, that I learned how to bake pies!
It was so beautiful to me to bear witness to everyone’s techniques. Some people were mechanical. Some were organic. Some were nervous. Some were free of worry altogether. Some were so grounded, you could plug yourself into them for days. There was so much to learn from everyone there. But just to be there was part of my soul’s journey. Just to be part of a community desiring to help another community.
It was beautiful.
And I learned how to bake a pie!
Those pies are now being distributed in Newtown, CT. with so much love, and heart, and the depth of how community comes together to offer hope in a time of darkness.
God bless all who helped in this effort, and god bless all of those whose hearts need to be held in light. May we all continue to find ways to be with each other now.
Go to http://www.theworldneedsmorepie.com to donate to this effort (or even just to get the recipe).