When tragedy hits we go through the stages of grief, denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Sometimes we can cycle through these steps quickly, other times we might get stuck in the cycle. When we received word this week that two of our young men were victims of a double homicide it was like a hard kick in the gut. Most of us are still in the grief cycle for other tragedies that have happened in quick succession recently and before we can come to acceptance of those events, more arise. It’s times like this that get me asking questions about how valid the work we do really is. Does it matter at all? Is it like pouring fresh water into the ocean and hoping it becomes a lake?
Nina, our high school admin assistant, was working on a project for me. I asked her to take grant proposals that we had written from the past 5 years and put them into a spreadsheet with information about the foundations areas of interest, contact info, etc. She came to me after working on it for a few days and said, “After looking at all those unsuccessful proposals I just don’t understand how you can keep going.” It made me laugh, I honestly hadn’t even thought about the fact that the files were filled with rejection after rejection. I said, “we just keep taking one step at a time.” When you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you must invest your life in a certain way regardless of the cost that’s what you do. However, my life will never be enough. I don’t have enough of hardly anything. Time. Money. Answers. Space. Food. The only thing I have enough of is love. We may not even live long enough to see all the ways that the investment of love takes root.
I went to see “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” the night we heard about these deaths. At one point the investor says to the older woman who is helping the young hotel owner reach his dreams “there’s nothing I admire more than someone who is willing to plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.” That line struck me squarely in the heart.
That’s the trick. Plant the trees, water the seeds, nurture the feeble branches. What if I begin to see my role as a tree nurturer rather than a people savior? I mean I know in my head that I can’t save anyone and that it’s not even my job, but my heart is another thing. One encouragement I often give to parents of teens is to look up from the behavior and remember the bigger picture of who their child is, otherwise we can get too myopic in our view of them. The same is true here. We have to remind ourselves to look up and remember the bigger picture. We are investing in human beings with true value because it’s the right thing to do. We have lost some, and sadly we will probably lose more, but we must keep investing. Some have become mighty oaks, others are little saplings at the moment and we may never be able to sit in their shade, but nurturing the saplings is where I want to pour out my life. It’s the only thing that makes sense. And on those most amazing days, I get to hang up my swing and soar in the shade of a mighty oak while laughing from deep in my soul because we saved one. Would you join us in tending the forest? Some have asked for practical ways to help here are a few.
Financial support, this allows us to continue doing the work each day.
Gift cards (Safeway, Target, Ross, or restaurants), these allow us to respond to practical needs
Come to our Be a Super Hero gala on April 17th!
Like us on Facebook and introduce us to your friends.
Make a gift to our Benevolence Fund which allows us to respond to tragedy and crisis as it occurs.
May we all cultivate our “green thumbs” as we nurture the saplings in our lives.