I first heard of Aleppo around the time most of you did. I knew it was horrible. I new there was a crisis. I knew people were dying.
And then I shut my eyes and closed my heart.
This might be cold. It was purposeful callousness. But it also felt essential.
I knew it was a path I couldn’t go down. It wasn’t a matter of comfort versus discomfort. It was a matter of sickness versus health. If I allow such things in my heart, I can get lost, and if I’m not strong enough, I can find it very hard to get out of. It can render me paralyzed.
Those of you who struggle like I do with boundaries inside your head probably understand.
For better or worse, that’s where I stood. When I would hear Aleppo, my heart would turn into a mirror – reflecting back the evil and pain rather than letting it settle. Never letting it settle.
And then I was nursing Tessie yesterday. We were warm and comfortable, and I was loving her so dearly. And I clicked the news on my phone and saw a dad running out of rubble, holding his baby who couldn’t have been more than a month older than Tessie. I’m not sure if the baby was alive or dead. Alive I pray.
And I believe I audibly gasped, “no!” My brain and my heart were screaming, “no no no. No.” This pain cannot be happening. This tragedy cannot be happening. This can not be existing in this same world that I am in.
But of course it is.
And so then I was left with what to do with it. How do we stop gunshots half a world away? How do we stop a hatred that is so much greater than any of us? How do we help the victims and how do we stop this from being a part of reality?
I’m a Christian, so I will pray. I’ll pray fiercely, and I will remember that this will help if even not in the ways we hope.
But I’ll also keep witness. I won’t allow my heart to be closed any longer. I’ll open my eyes; I’ll unplug my ears.
No one suffering will know this. There won’t be any tangible results, but I can’t help but believe that in some way it will make a difference, if even only to open my heart to the suffering in the world.
Because what do we do when we are suffering? Most of us will seek out another; we’ll share our struggle believing that a struggle shared is a struggle lessened.
For me, at least, suffering quietly and alone is the worst way to suffer.
And so I might be half a world away, temporarily safe in my quiet world, but I won’t let their pain ring out in an echo chamber.
I will listen.
Because there might be suffering indescribable, but I’ll add my eyes to those ensuring the world won’t turn a blind eye.
And to those saying my witness is a paltry response to such pain, I say, “yes. obviously.”
But I will kee my witness. And I will remember that I might be small, but united, our prayers can move mountains.