It's a bit of a sad day for me today; and for my community. I heard yesterday that a young man that I knew was killed in a car crash early Monday morning. It's one of those stupid, meaningless tragedies that shouldn't have happened but did. Now a precious life is lost and we are all reeling in shock and grief.
I want to share with you some words that a friend Lauren wrote about this loss. I think they are powerful beyond belief. Instead of turning away from the pain; or trying to numb or avoid it..... Instead of asking "why" and cursing the universe for being unfair...... Instead of isolating and putting on a brave face; she has called us to do something that is not without pain; but that has power and purpose.
"As the sun set tonight, I couldn't stop thinking about all the young people in my community who woke up this morning to hear one of their friends died in a car crash. What a tragedy, what a shock. Death is so hard to process regardless; but it's so much more difficult to understand and walk through when it's sudden and unexpected. I'm writing this for you, my beautiful friends who have lost J today........so sorry. May you feel the arms of our community wrapped around you right now as you farewell your friend. We see your pain and hurt. We are here if you need us....to talk, to cry, to pray, to hug....We really do care. All our love.....your Mum, your Dad, your friend, your neighbour."
So as I sit here with tears in my eyes, I reflect on what we can do when faced with terrible loss: We can turn towards each other. We can share our sorrow. We can hold others up who can not stand on their own. We can let ourselves be held. We can be honest and vulnerable with our grief.
And when we do, something beautiful happens: We are family. We are connected. We are together. We are "We." Together we have the courage to face our loss and move through it.
Below is a famous Whakatauki (or Maori Proverb) that I love. The flax bush (Harakeke) in Maori tradition is hugely symbolic of family, community and life: "Te Pa Harakeke"
Unuhia te rito o te harakeke, kei hea te kōmako e kō?
Ui mai ki ahau, ‘He aha te mea nui o te Ao?’
Māku e kī atu,
‘He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.’
If you remove the central shoot of the flaxbush, where will the bellbird find rest?
If you were to ask me, ‘What is the most important thing in the world?’
I would reply,
‘It is people, it is people, it is people.’
So what is the answer to our grief? How can we once again let the bellbird of joy and beauty rest upon us?
It is People, it is People, it is People.