This morning I went for a walk after reading an especially disturbing news item online, the details of which I won’t share here since it was too disturbing to be repeated. For a long time recently, in fact, I was on a news-free diet, because things have gotten so out of hand in the world that sometimes it’s just too painful to know, even though as a former news reporter and news hound I love to be aware of what’s going on (especially during election season!)
As I was walking I asked myself the question, once again, the question of how people who have gone through so much pain can ever be happy again, how they can ever believe in God or some other divine force, how they can even find the strength to ever again get up in the morning. It’s a mystery to me how human beings can continue to pick themselves up when they have fallen so hard, when their limbs and hearts are broken, when they’ve lost hope, when everything has fallen apart.
Just as I asked myself these questions, I heard a bird calling from the top of a sycamore tree. I could hear but not see him. I stood staring at the tree for a long, long time, watching the light play through the branches, listening to the call of the invisible bird. As I stared up, the tree and sky were all I saw, all I thought of, and I was completely at peace as I gazed. In that moment, my memory of what I had read this morning vanished. My worries and fears left. I was only in one place, and in one moment, marveling at the beauty of nature and the world.
The only way out of pain is through the present moment; it is all we have. There is nothing we can do to erase the pain. But the bird and its tree (or the tree and its bird) reminded me that there will always be moments when we can forget. There will always be moments.