The Gift Of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's Recovery: Everyday Magic, Day 186

Like many of you, I’ve been following the news about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, smiling whenever I hear more news of her recovery: she’s breathing on her own, she smiled at her husband, she gave him a neck massage, she stood on her own two feet without assistance. Today she scrolled through an I-pad and tried to speak. Her husband, Mark Kelly, told the press today, “She’s a strong person, a fighter….In two months you’ll see her walking through the front door of this (Tucson hospital) building.”

Why these sentences thrill me and so many others has everything to do with something we know in our heart of hearts about resilience, healing and miracles. Who doesn’t love a come-back kid, a contender, or a very upbeat, strong, hard-working public servant who beats the odds? Who doesn’t love a story in which love trumps hate, and the power of community and even nation turns toward holding someone fighting for her life in our collective light? In her healing, she becomes our pal, sister, daughter, cousin, old friend we now recognize.

This is not to say that there was anything lacking in those six people — young and old, Republican and Democrat, Christian and Jewish — who were gunned down in Tucson, or those unnamed ones still recovering physically or emotionally from this life-shifting event. This has been a hard time all the way around — in the past week, two of my close friends lost their mothers, and various people I know keep saying “this is just a weird $%&#% time.” But there’s something that pulls me forward when I hear about Gabby Gifford.

It’s a little and a lot like the return of the light, tipping back toward us since we crossed the winter solstice. Yet it’s also exactly what it means to look into the dark night — cold here but not so much in Tucson — and see the beauty of the dark in the dark. Here are the stars. Here are the changing skies. Here is that large round moon through the clouds. The beauty right there even in the darkest moments is made of strength, tenderness, and a heart so open because it’s broken. “There’s a crack in everything,” Leonard Cohen sings. “That’s how the light gets in.” But it’s also how we learn to dwell in the dark, letting the tiny and large miracles — like Gabby Gifford saying her first word again sometime soon — speak to who we really are and always were, beneath the labels and ideas that separate us.

Hearing the latest news on Rep. Giffords brings all of us home, one people, somewhat messed up and wounded, broken in various ways and flawed in more, but also miraculous.

1/11/11, Bonnie Raitt's Song & Tucson's Tragedy: Everyday Magic, Day 177

Bonnie Raitt sings in  “All At Once” how a fight with her daughter escalated, I receive emails from various organizations about what the Tea Party didn’t say and should’ve about the Tucson tragedy, and the date today — with all those 1’s — makes me wonder how as a person and as part of a culture I could be one with others. Having had my own fights with my daughter and my own failings as part of a community, the task seems impossible. The rhetoric in our culture incites us, even in light of the damage we just witnessed born of divide-us-and-blame-the-other rhetoric of one color or another. Having had more than my fair share of inner and outing bitching over meaningless things, my personal rhetoric also imprints on me a sense of separateness.

Yet I know, when the wind sweeps me clear of my luggage for a moment, or when a tragedy such as what happened in Tucson breaks open my heart a little more how much of an illusion this sense of separateness is. Our hearts go out to the victims of the Tucson shootings — those who died, those who lived, those who loved any of them – because they are a part of us. In that light, I want to aim my mind and deeds more toward what can help me remember that connection, and how whatever divides us also damages us.

As someone who could easily be categorized (and has too often categorized myself) as a left-leaning, feminist, spiritual and religious, activist and so on, I’ve ridden these labels to the good and the bad. The truth is that sometimes I find great senses of oneness with unlikely suspects — evangelical Republicans, atheist scholars, macho rednecks even (and apologies for labeling them at this moment). When my heart is open, I more buy cheap cialis readily connect with others because I can more easily listen to what they’re saying in the greater context of “this is who this person is and what s/he struggles with at this moment” instead of as whether this person measures up to my artificial and somewhat arbitrary judgments.

I don’t know the answer to how to transform my own heart more permanently, only that this is the direction I need to live. I don’t know the best response for how to speak with those who seek to harm, even murder, out of such close-hearted divisions, only that whatever we’re doing isn’t enough, and there isn’t enough time to ignore what life is calling is to do as a culture. Having led and participated in many political fights that labeled one group as right and another as wrong, and knowing how hard it is to affect even a quarter-inch of positive change, the work ahead is daunting. Yes, it starts with me and my own heart, but it sure doesn’t end there.

Bonnie Raitt continutes to sing. “To me, there’s a lot more broken than anyone can really see/ Why the angels turn their backs on us is a mystery to me,” but then she finishes with, “All at once I hear your voice, and times just slips away/ nothing they can say can hold me here/ take me where I only feel the wind across my face/ let me know there’s some place there for me.” This is what oneness feels like to me: a voice that lifts us out of our everyday pettiness, lands us in a place beyond human time and where we know our connection with all else alive. So happy 1/11/11, everyone, and let’s let what oneness can be land in us and keep landing the rest of our lives.

Remembering the Six Who Died in Tucson, and Sending Peace: Everyday Magic, Day 176

I sit in a comfortable chair, wearing cuddle-duds and yoga clothing, my feet stretched out and the windows I’m facing full of gently-falling snow and a tree of cardinals. All this comfort and peace, all this beauty, and I cannot help but to want to share it with those who need it most at this time, particularly the families of the six people killed in Tucson two days ago. As I read their stories on various sites, I’m reminded again how everyone has a fascinating life, and most of us — in spite of the language of hatred — have lives infused with kindness. I’m also moved by how diverse these people were.

I’m taking this morning to learn about them, and to wish their families, friends and communities all manner of comfort, beauty and peace.

Gabe Zimmerman, 30, Rep. Gifford’s aide, oversaw thousands of Gifford’s constituents’ cases, his whole job focused on helping people. He worked so hard, in fact, that a revelation in his life was falling in love. A friend former co-worker reported that Zimmerman was engaged to a woman he loved deeply.

Dorwan Stoddard, 78, died while protecting his wife, who he told to dive down before he threw himself on top of her to keep her safe. “No one was surprised that he jumped in front to save her,” Katerry Joplin (a church friend) said. “We would’ve been surprised if he hadn’t.” The Stoddards were very active in the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ, and although Giffords was Jewish, they didn’t let their different faiths keep them apart.

Phyllis Schneck, 79, recently moved to Tucson to escape the New Jersey winters after she lost her husband of 56 years some years back. She was known for donating her handmade quilts and needlepoint projects to help raise funds for food banks and children’s charities.

Judge John Roll, 63, appointed to the district court by President George W. Bush, left behind three children, five grandchildren, and his wife. One of his friends, Lee Mellor, told KGUN9, “If you’d ever had somebody that you truly believed as a good person, yeah, that would be him. As a prosecutor I worked with him.  He was a very good prosecutor.  As a judge, I don’t think you could have asked for anything better than to have a case tried before him because he was fair.”

Dorothy Morris, 79, was married to a stance Republican, George, who went to the event to talk with Rep. Giffords. He also threw her to the ground and himself on top of her, but it was too late, and he was shot twice (and is not recovering at he hospital). George called Dot his girlfriend or bride, even after over 50 years of marriage.

Christina Taylor Green, 9, who as most of us know was born on 9/11, was passionate about politics, baseball, horseback riding and swimming. A neighbor took her to the event. Her mother told The New York Daily News of Christina, “She was all about helping people and being involved. It’s so tragic. She went to learn today, and then someone with so much hatred in their heart took the lives of innocent people.”