Preamble: I am struggling to get this post written and posted. I started it and almost finished it a week ago, so the contents might seem odd, timewise. I am sitting in a waiting room now, Russ is getting his eyes tested and new glasses ordered. Here is what I have ……
After Hurricane Fiona left Nova Scotia we had lots of messages go back and forth with our friends and family there. Our hearts were so heavy for them. I had the cell number for one of the family that I only just met for the first time in our recent trip. Despite not feeling super connected I wanted to check in. I knew that Gary was a very busy man with lots on his plate but I risked bugging him. It turned out that Gary is very generous with words and stories and we have been texting back and forth almost every day. His messages have given me goose bumps as he has detailed how the neighbors are looking out for each other. His family seems to have an especially tender spot for the widows who need help with generators and dealing with their isolation. It has inspired me and warmed my heart. He has also sent me many photos, including this picture of one of the blueberry fields in autumn. I find it so gorgeous.
I find one of the hard parts of having my people going through hard things is the powerless feeling I often have as they struggle. Especially when the distance between us means we can be of no practical assistance. We simply sit here and wonder and imagine what it’s like. We pray too, for their strength and their peace amid everything. In some situations, like this one, that seems to be the extent of what we can do.
I think this is why a few days ago I got a somewhat silly notion in my head. I looked at the earrings I was wearing, I had put them on the last full day we were in Nova Scotia. Russ had bought them for me at the Halifax Citadel gift shop. As I looked in the mirror I thought to myself, “its time to change your earrings Kathy!” But even as I considered that something in me was already resisting it. I got thinking, “I am not taking these off until our people all have their power back on.” Well, Monday morning the message finally came in from Gary, a New Brunswick power man had come in their yard and said, “you can turn your generator off.” (Can you just imagine how momentous those words would sound after 9+ days without power?) The washing machine was put to use almost immediately Gary told me. Later that day standing in front of the mirror I contemplated that with the Fentons, the Mannings, and all 3 Brown homes now back on it was time to change my earrings. But then figured, “no, I am not ready, not yet, my people have power but many still do not.” I decided then that I would keep them on until every person in Nova Scotia has their power back. The first thing Gary told me yesterday morning is that 8000 homes in Pictou and Colchester counties are still without. I will be wearing my Celtic knot earrings for a while yet it seems.
This is all stupid, in a way. Maybe quite boring as the main subject of a blog post. But something tells me there is something here.
Do my actions illumine just how very uncomfortable I am when I feel powerless to make a difference? Yes. Absolutely true about me. Is this common for humans? I think so.
Do my actions make any difference? No. There is no way my earring choice shifts anything for anyone.
But maybe it’s an act of solidarity. Maybe, when I really analyze the crap out of this, it says “I can’t help you, but if you are dealing with limits I can too.”
Maybe by wearing the earrings bought in Nova Scotia, representing a piece of their Celtic heritage, I am carrying a piece of them on me at all times, maybe thats a tiny form of solidarity.
Maybe it’s a reflection of the wisdom that actions speak louder than words. Maybe the wearing of the earrings and the pondering that goes with that is a form of prayer. I think about the Holy Spirit quite a bit lately. I think about how the Spirit might serve as a courier, taking the love and courage and peace I have to share, from me to those I pray for. (I then trust that God is refilling me so that I have enough for myself and more to share with others.)
That’s all I got written until today….a week later. If my understanding of the Nova Scotia Power Map is correct there are still some without power. I am still wearing the earrings.
If you look it up on Google you will find that the Celtic knot (the symbol used for my earrings) takes on many forms. It has various meanings.
One of its characteristics is that while a Celtic knot may look like it has distinct sections or parts, in fact it is made with one single strand that weaves back through itself and is not tightened, or in other words, is held loosely, it has no beginning and no end.
I really love the symbolism of this. It is a visual reminder of the connection that exists between us and the unique forms our friend and family groups take. The reality of knots that are not tight says something important too I think. Obviously sometimes tight knots are important, I am a rancher, I see this regularly. But the tie that binds friends and family together, across vast distances and through hard times can be held gently, can be a means for our prayers of love, mercy, courage and strength to flow freely.
As I wear these earrings in the days and years ahead they will be a reminder of our trip. They have become more. I am so grateful for our Nova Scotia history, our Brown family there, our Fenton and Manning friends, and the invisible and gently woven strand that connects us to them. In these post hurricane days my earrings have become a testament to love and a reminder to pray.