Monday, September 25, 2006
I'm not very good at waiting. I'll admit it… it's a great failing of mine. I read un-purchased magazines in supermarket check-out lines to stave off my impatience. I usually hang up when someone puts me on hold. My husband rates my behavior in airports as marginal at best. I don't like to wait for things to "unfold." I want to be in on the "unfolding" process myself… or at least continually informed. The world we live in now is not an easy place for impatient, resolution-minded people like me. In recent years, Life has slapped around that impatient spirit of mine...and left me aware of my limits. I realize I need to find peace at a slower pace of events... and accept my own powerlessness in many situations.
My youngest daughter was in Manhattan on Sept 11, 2001. She started a brand new job that day. My husband and I knew everything about that job... from 401k to health care benefits... but we didn't ask where the offices were. She said she'd call that morning with a new work phone number. I was sipping tea, making vacation plans with a friend, when I got a call-waiting "beep." "My God! They're attacking New York City!" ...another friend exclaimed! I hung up on both of them.
Her cell didn't answer, so. I checked the address online. The office was very near the Empire State building. There was talk on television of a third plane possibly headed to that landmark. And so the wait began for me, as for so many others on that day. Eventually, she called. ("Eventually" seems too easy a word for how it felt.) Our family was one of the fortunate ones. Relief overwhelmed me. But, a while later, reality set in. This was not "over," she would continue to live there. Through anthrax, and subway threats, and Homeland Security alerts...my Baby would be there. While I sat, frustratingly far away, in a "Beaver-Cleaver-land" part of the country, of little interest to foe or friend. My husband and children would continue to fly frequently on international flights, my son and daughter-in-law living and working in the D.C. area. No one was going to quit, or move to come into my little cocoon of safety. I had no power to control them, to control world events, to keep them safe. Somehow I had to learn patience, find serenity, get a grip. Life gave my impatient spirit a near knock-out punch with that one. But there is always more to come.
Last year our family faced another formidable foe: my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I learned there were no "definite" courses of treatment…only educated best guesses. I wanted certainty. I wanted to "KNOW." "Not gonna happen," Life said, and shook me until I understood. I don't get to know. I get to wait. I get to learn faith and forbearance and an untapped resource called fortitude. I found in an old poem I loved… words that my mother, if living, might have said.
"What is this I hear of anger, discontent, and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you...
It takes life to love Life."
(Edgar Lee Masters, Lucinda Matlock.)
So I understand we need to have patience with this Duke Lacrosse case. We have to wait. "Yes I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned," said another favorite poet of mine, Edna St. Vincent Millay. That's right, Edna, I'm with you on this one, girl! I, too, am not resigned to passivity in this evil process.
I thought this week of the boys and their families waiting, again, for another hearing. I prayed they would have "The Peace That Passes All Understanding" to help them endure. They have been waiting since last March for justice, for fairness, for sanity to prevail in this matter. I want it for them NOW... I'm sure you do too. But another hearing has passed and the Evil Wizard is still weaving his Fantastic Lies. I thought of Reade's Mom, answering the phone, hearing those fateful words, "Mom, she picked me." For me, it called up "My God, they're attacking New York City," and "It's cancer." I'm sure each of you have had words in your lives, you can call up to feel that ice-cold dread... that moment of lead. Call it up now. That's the antidote to waiting. That's the impetus to the energy we need in this case right now.
"Hope begins in the dark, the slow hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait, and wait, and work, you don't give up," said Anne Lamott.
We will be patient, yes, but we will NOT give up. We must "work." There is SOMETHING very much in our power to achieve in this case: the defeat of Michael Nifong in the District Attorney's race. I am no political writer, but I will say this over and over till November. THIS is something we can make happen. Beth Brewer of RN-VC has the troops on the field. More voters signed Lewis Cheek's petition than voted for Nifong. This is one evil we can grab by the throat and throw into obscurity. It just takes each of us doing whatever we possibly can. Write, post, rabble-rouse... sign up new voters, drive to the polls. Put up a campaign sign, give what you can, All those of you who care, who are seething with outrage...PLEASE...get involved. Seldom in these frustrations in our lives, does life hand us a road map to satisfaction…to a possible resolution. This is one of those moments. I'm dreaming of a phone call for Nifong this November, the very one he most dreads… "Mike...YOU LOST." Are you dreaming of that too?
Let's make it happen. I can almost hear Nifong's phone ringing now.