Tuesday, October 11

Catharsis

Coming through the clouds, to the other side of an emotional event, one can see much more clearly. It is easy to offer excuses as to why feelings become so raw - physical exhaustion, pms, stress. I'm trying not to do that (although I have my excuses) as I look back on a night of lots of tears. I woke up the next morning, tired, but with greater insight and some messages from the Spirit to take to heart. I thought I would share what I wrote the other night (warning: it's a long one).
It's something like 1:30 in the morning, my last night in Nashville. I can't sleep because I am grieving; the tears have been flowing pretty freely and my chest aches with the feeling of a broken heart.

Seeing my Sri Lanka team was so good. In our short time together last winter, I came to respect, admire and appreciate the caring, dedicated professionals that they are. Some of those friendships formed quickly and deeply. Today we had to say good-bye again.

This weekend Sri Lanka has been in the forefront of my mind - the beauty of the people and the devastation of their lives. We looked at pictures again and told stories, rekindling all of the feelings that I felt so deeply there - joy and sadness, hope and hopelessness.

When Katrina hit the southern states, I did not react as I would have expected. I felt indifferent and very ashamed of that indifference. I didn't know what was wrong with me. Even in this blog, as I weakly expressed empathy for those who lost so much, I exclaimed defensiveness for the forgotten - those who still have not recovered from the tsunami.

Tonight, as I was feeling unidentified emotions but thinking about Sri Lanka, I asked myself, "What would I say to myself if I was my counselor?" And it all came pouring out. My indifference was for the protection of my heart. Katrina was touching a very painful space for me. As I walked on the coast in Galle, I had to step over the sandal of a little child who had probably been swept out to sea. In Jaffna, we drove by the bombed playground, temple and homes on our way to the coast where the houses were swept off of their foundations. The saris wrapped around the palm trees were not just lost laundry, they had been torn off of the bodies of women who were too afraid and too embarrassed to run from the waves. I sat mesmerized, staring at a train, where 1500 people, mostly children, drowned when they were trapped by the inescapable flood. The images of Katrina may have looked too familiar.

When we returned to the States, email conversations bounced around our team, talking about how each person was handling reentry (we received no debriefing at all from our organization either before we left or after our return). Understandably, everyone experienced and worked through their feelings in different ways. When I went to Sri Lanka (to work with orphans), it had been a mere six weeks or so since we had lost Ayannah (our almost-adopted daughter). Working with the children in Sri Lanka was very healing for me, in that sense. The Spirit kept giving me the message: You are made to love parentless children. The week I returned, we received a call from DHS, asking us if we would be willing to take a permanent placement for Ayannah's brand new biological brother. The chance to process my journey across the ocean was lost. We were thrown into a huge, immediate challenge that required all of my mental and emotional energy. [Ten days later, after we had decided "yes" and I had named him Samuel in my mind, DHS decided he needed to be placed in a different county.]

So tonight I grieve. I grieve for those children who danced for us. I grieve for those young professionals we trained who had never known life without war and then were expected to walk with the next generation through a new tragedy. I grieve for the fisherman whose boats were on the roads and in the trees. I grieve for the women who saris were wrapped around the trees.

And I grieve for families who lost loved ones in the south. I grieve for the old man who was stuck in his attic without food for eleven days. I grieve for the children who had been sent to Houston, only to have to be evacuated once again. I grieve for the poor who don't have the social capital necessary to even get back to the lifestyle they had before the storms. I grieve for the anger, the confusion, the loss and the pain.

8 comments:

Allan White said...

I understand now. I understand why you held back when Katrina hit - your psyche knew better than to let you experience that kind of tragedy all over again.

I wish I could have been with you in Nashville while you were processing this, but it's probably good that you got to sort it out alone. You may not have made that clear connection otherwise.

I love you honey, and I love that you are willing to share your feelings with us. That grief you feel, while painful, connects more deeply to the Spirit that God put in us: the rage at injustice, the acute need for compassion, and the need for action to help those in this broken world. Experiencing what you did and "going there" on that emotional journey brings you closer to God, and equips you more fully for His work!

I love you honey!

PapaPeters said...

Thank you for that emotional honesty. I think as a helper its hard to help ourselves sometimes. Its a sign of wisdom to be able to really process what you were thinking/feeling. I didn't know about your trip to Sri Lanka or your srtuggles with Adobtion both subjects very dear to my heart. I pray for your steps that they may continue to search for your purpose in all of this.
Bless you sister,

ryan

Amanda Peterson said...

This was real. Thank you for so candidly sharing your thoughts. Thank you for being willing to look into yourself. What a lesson for me, and I hope others, to learn as I read your thoughts.

Cheryl said...

Bless you, Kristi. God be with you as you grieve and as you love. Thank you for sharing this...I love you.

Jason Hill said...

I'm proud of you. I am praying that you will continue to experiance the deepest of emotions, both joy and pain. And that you will continue to share your gifts with others.

God, make us weak so that we can be strong.

rebecca marie said...

kristi - i'm a better person for having read that. thank you for posting yourSELF like that.

Jeff Cash said...

Kristi,
You communicate your thoughts so well. When we become volnerable and allow ourselves to hurt for others we then begin to see them as Christ does.
At least we can begin to see a glimps of what he sees.
True religion is this... looking after widows and orphans in their distress and keeping your self pure from the world.
I'm proud of you. Thank you for sharing the spiritual journey that you are on. May the Lord continue to open your eyes and heart to what He sees and hurts for.

phyllis said...
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