I stand in the center of this planet.
Turning slowly, I give witness to play, work, joy, tears, laughter, screams, health, illness, embraces, abandonment, kindness, cruelty, plenty, hunger, every color, every size, cities, towns, hideaways, abundance of water, severe drought, lush landscape, barren landscape, families of all configurations, peace, war, rainbows, tornadoes, nature showing its whole menu, crowds, pairs, the solitary, and professions of all kinds next door to or down the street from joblessness.
I see thousands of animals and birds, noticing similarities and contrasts with humans, and know I am missing the world of fish beneath the water’s surface.
It is a concert of life, every piece playing a part. Sometimes it is the most glorious crescendo of harmony and at others, the crescendo of dissonance that hurts one’s heart, soul and mind.
All of it. So much more than could ever be written on a page or in a book, to say nothing of how when I am turned facing one way, what I first witnessed that is now behind me could be changing in that very moment.
It always has been, is, and always will be life on this planet.
We often order food that comes with the label “everything.” A pizza with everything. Even crackers that have the word “everything” on the label. And this planet is “everything.”
The “everything” is right here in my neighborhood even as it is in massive headlines from all over the world. It is easy to forget my neighborhood just as it is easy to forget that today’s headlines do not cancel out what happened in another part of the world last week. It’s easy to forget that. We live in a world that keeps “moving on.”
I have no recollection of when I began to observe life or pictures or started reading what was in print in a newspaper. What I know is that whenever each of those abilities came into being, I began to learn and now know on a deeper level decades later that this is an “everything” world.
I am in the “everything” as long as I have breath.
There is also much I do not see.
THE WELL BECKONS ME
Many days feel like more than I can take in. Each new one brings me into the acute awareness of just why this imaginary and yet very real presence of wells is becoming a beautifully consuming focus in my life.
There is, for example, the Well of Mercy, which I feel particularly drawn to today.
WHAT TRANSPIRES THERE
When I dip into it over and over again, it not only calms but also equips me to be part of the “everything,” to stay and not run. The Well of Mercy reminds me that mercy is a gift. It is a gift when given to me, when I give it to others, and when I choose to show it even when I don’t feel it.
I’ll stay with mercy as an example. In my metaphorical/imaginary wells I might dip and draw up the words of someone well versed in and modeling what the particular well offers.
At the Well of Mercy I draw up a dipper that has the two books by Gregory Boyle, the Jesuit priest who works with gangs…Tattoos on the Heart and Barking to the Choir. They are two of my favorites, among dozens, of course, and remind me of mercy and how lives are changed when mercy is in the room, in the town, in the world.
So I carry this one example away from the well on my shoulders, not a light thing to carry, though mercy contains light. I know I am carrying something back with me that sustains and can be apportioned, as needed, not just by my need but also for the needs of others.
The wells are not an escape.
Yes, when at them it feels like a time to breathe, to be in community, to be in thanks, even to share unstoppable belly laughter and wonderful stories that uplift.
They challenge. How can I take and not respond?
It is not for me to pour back in what is too hard or not a preference. The well is often a catalyst to go and do or be what pushes me to a limit.
The challenges can also elicit from me, “OK, you’re on!” The wells know I truly want to show up without all my excuses and stories. It is not unusual to get a full dipper of ‘”yes, you can” and the confidence I wish for.
For this moment, mercy is a gift of refreshment and restoration. And the mercy shown by Gregory Boyle is only one example of what I find when I choose to lower my dipper down, down, down into the depths of whichever well I visit.
When I began to write this I thought I would come up with one why, the big why. But what I know so far is that the why or whys change just as the wells I visit change just as the days change and just as I change with them.
WHY I RETURN OVER AND OVER AGAIN…IN THE MORNING, AFTERNOON, EVENING AND MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
My experience so far, however and for whatever why I bring with me, is that every well I have visited has welcomed and met my whys with an overflowing response of goodness. I have not even one tiny iota of doubt it will always be so.