In the broken places the light shines through. –Leonard Cohen
Last spring I posted, Blossom, encouraging my readers to “choose change” instead of waiting for a crisis to force their hand. This spring I sadly write, Break Open, encouraging my readers to again choose change, but this time, not only for themselves, but also for the victims and survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. As before, a poem inspires my heart…
There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness, out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow beyond all grief which leads to joy,
and a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound,
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside which is unbreakable and whole
While learning to sing.
Poet Rashani Réa, an impassioned social and environmental activist, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when she was only 13-years old. Marjory Stoneman Douglas teens, also inspired by MLK, did more than just march on March 24, 2018. These courageous teenagers, determined to create a movement for stricter gun control laws, organized the March for Our Lives, one of the biggest youth protest since the Viet Nam war. A quote by student, Delaney Tarr, unapologetically, pulls no punches …
This movement, created by students, led by students, is based on emotion. It is based on passion and it is based on pain. Our biggest flaws—our tendency to be a bit too aggressive, our tendency to lash out, things that you expect from a normal teenager—these are our strengths. The only reason that we’ve gotten so far is that we are not afraid of losing money, we’re not afraid of getting reelected or not getting reelected, we have nothing to lose. The only thing we have to gain at this point is our safety.
Unafraid, Delaney screamed out passionately. Undeterred, she stood strong, despite her gut wrenching pain. Alone, together, she and her peers stepped up to the podium singing songs of hope and healing, leading chants of generational change. Never again! Vote them out! End gun violence! Register, Educate, Vote!
Captivated, I watched these brave young souls (or maybe old souls?) healing from the aftermath of trauma, an emotional freezing that disconnects us from our bodies and from each other. I saw how their anger melted deep despair, and how their grief rang out in a clarion call. They made me believe in a dream still worth dreaming, where separation withers and dies, and non-violent change blooms throughout our land.
My hope is that this generation, the mass shooting generation, can fulfill the dream of a man killed by gun violence 50-years ago today — Dr. Martin Luther King. We can’t delay any longer, now can we? Our children are crying out in desperation: We’re dying by mass shootings! Stop the violence! Save us now!
So we can, and we must, but not only by marching, registering, and voting. We can and we must by healing our own pain. These students’ way forward can be our way too, for no matter our brokenness, there’s a place deep inside us that is unbreakable and whole.
To learn more about healing from traumatic experiences, I highly recommend the podcast, Healing Trauma: The Light Shines Through the Broken Places, by psychologist, Tara Brach. Very educational and incredibly moving.