Tuesday, March 15, 2011

lost in translation

When my children were babies, I could distinguish the meaning behind their cries. Crying is the first language of an infant.  A hunger cry sounded very different that a tired worn out baby cry.  An "I'm awake now and want up out of my crib," had its own sound flavouring.  A sharp colicky gas bubble cry pierced my maternal skin as did the wailing from an inflamed ear, but even they had distinctive differences to the tone, volume, and tempo.  I knew how to translate the cry immediately.... from  the moment I heard one of them exhale their first sound.  I went with my maternal instinct to soothe, to console, to try my best to alleviate the pain.   I knew what to do.

Today I don't know what to do.  I can't hear the cry.  I can't distinguish any sounds.  I see weeping all over the place.  But its silent. Not even a groan.  Nothing.  How then do you respond to silent weeping?  Just a nation of frightened shuddering of shoulders wracked with sorrow that spills out of the core of deep pain.  How then do you respond when you know what has caused the pain but it is so massive you have no words or means of trying to comfort?  How then do you respond when you feel that even prayer seems futile? 

My maternal instinct kicks in when I see this... when I feel it from another human.  I want to console.  My desire to reach out to respond is strong.  I want to DO something! My desire to express words of comfort is on the tip of my lips.  I want to say something, but there are no words.  There are no words.  

Like everyone on this planet, my senses are overloaded with images of the devastation and chaos caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I can't even imagine what it is like to have survived this disaster, to have lost friends and family members, to have lost all your possessions, your home, your hometown.  I can't even fathom what it is like sitting and grieving in a makeshift shelter with no food or water, with no power or insight as to what will happen next.  I can't even comprehend what it must have felt like to live through an 8.9 earthquake, then watch the sea wash over the land turning everything in its path into broken dreams, then live through an onslaught of aftershocks strong enough to be categorized as an earthquake all on its own.  

What pierces my skin is the silence of the crying.  The grief of a whole nation mourns with stoicism and I am in lost in the translation of how deep the wounds go.  A country littered with cars on rooftops, yachts marooned on streets, houses heaped like discarded tinkertoys, fields covered in belongings.  Someone's belongings.   I have watched the water roll in, thundering over life that once was and am left shocked and still. Hand to mouth.  Sick to my stomach dread.  I've read first hand accounts.  I've listened to Skyped out reporters trying to get the word out.  

Death tolls.  Ring those bells...... for whom they toll. Dear God.  The silent weeping looms out in echos and seems lost in the translation..........

Despite the myriad of video, photos, newsclips, reports, I am stuck on the image of a battered doll with a broken face lying in the debris.  One child's prized possession... her comfort doll for nighttime.  I so want to reunite that little doll with her little girl.  To me, I can translate this.  It would make sense to me.  If only I could.  Be a Mom.  Console a child by reuniting her with her baby doll in order to allow her to console her own baby.

I want to pray.  What are the words?

I want to console.  My arms are not long enough to embrace.
I want to be able to translate this crying disaster into something I can comprehend.  Maybe if I could do that, I could figure out a way to be helpful. 
I want to let every one of those suffering humans that my heart is wide open to their needs.

But, I am just a small little girl on the other side of the world with no power to do the things I want to do.

Against the magnitude of this ongoing disaster,  my attempts are futile as is any emotion to pray.  I don't have the machinery, the money or the government position to help rebuild a country? 

What is left to be able to do?  Let us silently weep with our brethren.  Let them know we are there in spirit..... as the Spirit that flows invisibly but offers love and strength.  Let us console one for one...... Let us listen to the different cries that will come out of the silence stocism and respond in any way they need us to with our maternal instinct intact.  Their pain is our pain.  Let us never forget that.  Let us not get lost in the translation of what is needed even though the healing will be like climbing the highest mountain barefoot.  

And...... Let us remember that collective prayer needs no words to be effective.  Just fill it with unspoken heartfelt love and be there to listen.  Its the best we can do.


Twain12 said...

puts a lot of things in perspective

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Dana, I"m the one that requested you write on this subject & you did a wonderful job like I knew you would :) Is it ok for me to request a topic for you to write about? I'm sure you are very busy with your life, just wanted to know if I could keep the requests going? Let me know. You are very inspiring to me!

swilek said...

well said. my heart is so sad for these people. my one friend's blog photo he found captures it all. (connormac) it is of a japanese young woman amid the ruins sitting on what's left of pavement with her rubber boots beside her and silently crying. See if I can link you here to the pic...you may have seen it. my prayers seem futile, but i know i must keep sending out good thoughts and prayers for this nation. thanks for writing! http://blog.connormcc.com/2011/03/14/this-picture-sums-it-up/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+connormcc%2FAUPs+%285enses%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

theMuddledMarketPlace said...

your words reach out and find receptive ears

it's that reaching out of hearts and there being nothing

our whole world is unutterabley grieved and our liturgy has no lamanation

i have dug out the russian chants, their beauty just about honours the depth of grief

bless you

Marja said...

Well said. The devastation, the horror is immense in Japan. Beyond comprehension even for us. I'll pray they are able to restore the power quickly so that the people get some relieve from the fear and my heart goes out to all the people in Japan. I've have learned though that the human spirit and resilence is unbelievable strong as well. We had a very moving memorial service yesterday in Christchurch and I could see the first little flower growing out of the rubble. Our thoughts were with Japan as well

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

This whole thing is unimaginrable. It is So Big in every way. No one really knows what to do and so very many people feel as you do, Dana.....What to do? What to do?
All we can do is send our loving thoughts and care across the thousands of miles. Reach out in whatever small way we can. Let them know they are not alone. Let them know that we care in whatever way we possibly can.