When it seems like everything is spinning out of control--a sensation often enhanced by the holidays or, say, a nasty political season--I remember something my friend Kevin said to me back in our crazy and confusing twenties.
In the aftermath of a real disaster, when pundits were spitting opinions and the media were whipped into a frenzy, Kevin and I took a long walk through the Lower East Side. Amidst the decadent, unholy filth of the New York streets we dearly loved, we discussed one of our mutual favorite Bible verses. We were both kids raised Catholic, in the midst of our adolescent rebellion, riding the high-horse of defiance, stupidity and good intentions. It's still funny to me that we turned to the Gospel of Luke for inspiration. We both loved the line, "Mary kept these things and pondered them in her heart." Such a humble but appropriate response to the mind-blowing events of the Nativity story! When Big Things happen, we said as we meandered past tattoo joints and head shops and drag queens, it seems best not to make sense of anything immediately. It seems right to ponder. To listen to other points of view. To speak softly and open hearts and minds and--as the Blessed Mother instructs in a far different narrative, written by far different prophets--to let it be.
And then Kevin, who really was wiser than his years and who had a flair for dramatic storytelling (and who is now a super-successful theatre director of whom I am endlessly proud!) uttered--nay, exclaimed! hollered!--the line that really sticks with me all these years later. Mary pondered these things in her heart, we agreed, and, "if it's good enough for the mother of Our Lord and Saviour, then damnit, it's good enough for me!"
And may it be good enough for me. And for all of us. In the midst of chaos--whatever causes it--may we breathe and ponder and give things time and let it be. In the midst of raising our teenagers, as I remind you again and again, it's vital to step back and ask, "Do I KNOW what's going on? Must I PROTECT my child from real and present danger? Can I HONOR my teenager's unique journey toward adulthood?"
But sometimes, it's also okay to ponder and let answers (or inspiration) come. To forgive ourselves for imperfect days and to pray for better ones. To express gratitude for all that's good and to let things be for now.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. We all shine on (like the moon and the stars and the sun)!