I can’t keep up with all the tragedies.

What do I do
to carry,
to embrace,
to hold
all this despair?

I am emptied.

Swollen with
uncomfortable silence,
pregnant with futility,
overwhelmed,
nauseous,
and numb,
I’m left mounting
scraggly defenses
to keep from caving in.

and then I remember

the gentle nudge
of a memory,
edging in sideways
from the Great Beyond
(or was it
the Great Before),

another reality
aching with the
same quiet
desperation,
the words familiar
as the tattered edges
of a worn
comfort blanket.

Somehow the
interwovenness
of the threads
of thoughts
can still tickle me.
Solace
waltzes in
where solipsism
pranced.

Do not be daunted
by the enormity
of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated
to complete the work,
but neither
are you free
to abandon it.

I so often forget

that I
am neither
the first
nor
the last
to entertain
such thoughts.
The anguish
subsides,
grounded by
an assuredness:

I am accompanied

by multitudes
who cry out
for justice,
weeping together
more unburdening
than grieving
alone,
toiling together
for peace,
reconciling
the pain
and the beauty.

Abidance
by a moral imperative
to contribute
all that is possible
with respect to
everything I know
and all I’m still
unlearning,
an ethic of care
and a spiritual ecology
connecting my
heart-led efforts
to thinker-doers
and wisdom seekers
across the lands
and waters.

My hands
are too small
to hold it all;
but our hands,
interlocking,
are big enough
to hold more.
Reaching back
to spiritual ancestors
and forward to
descendants
(animal, vegetable,
and mineral),
the chain
solidifies
the responsibility,
redistributes
the weight of the load.

The world’s grief
is enormous.
I can’t bear it,
but I won’t worry
because
we can.

The work is
laid out
before us –
a tapestry of
brilliant colours
snagged, worn,
and unraveling
in a million places.

Many hands
make lighter work.

When arthritic joints
or bleary eyes,
hunger, pain,
or sleep
necessitate pause,
we’ll pass
the darning needles
from hand to hand,
guidance
from heart to heart,
trusting
in the agile minds
and nimble fingers
of those who take
our places.

I am filled

with the words
of the ancients
lifting my spirits,
I am recommitting
to justice,
to mercy,
to humility.

All this work
is ours
and I will
mourn, celebrate,
work, play,
practice,
stay,

as long as it ever shall take.

 

–Hannah Renglich (To read more of Hannah’s poems, visit: https://sharedwonder.wordpress.com/category/poems/)

*italicized stanza quoted from the Talmud


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