When Words Fail, There is Love
Yesterday: I cook. I bake. I slip out to the store for more onions. I return, and cook and bake some more. After receiving an early morning message that my friend has lost the family home in a fire (not one of the fires in CA) I spring into action making a meal, with snacks and treats that can be eaten for the next few days. Listening to old Joni Mitchell albums as I work, I think of other times in my life when words fail me; times when pain and grief are so pronounced that there is no way of expressing myself…other than through my hands and heart. When words fail, I am lucky that I have more than one way to do this.
- Music–first, last, and always, my career for decades.
- Sewing–a sideline hobby bringing in a bit of cash when I needed it.
- Gardening–feeding my family with produce grown as close to my kitchen door as possible, and sharing extra with friends.
- Cooking and Baking–a constant in my life. Maybe in yours, too.
We all have times when words fail us, but it’s not just when tragedy strikes. Seeing the faces of my children for the first time, there are no words that come close to expressing the love inside of me; holding the book Art of the Pie for the very first time in my hands; the colors of this morning’s sunrise reflecting on wispy clouds; a hug from a complete stranger when I need one…and giving one to another. All leave me speechless.
Years ago, when living part time in Seattle, I was an active member of a community garden with a vibrant composting program. After 9/11 we all felt so helpless, as individuals, as a gardening community, as a nation. Many of us gathered around the fountain at The Seattle Center bringing flowers, photos, and tears. No words able to express our grief, I saw a poster with just one. IMAGINE. If it was possible to break my heart more than it already was, that one word did it. Tears streaming down my face, I placed my flowers near it.
A week or so later, the garden asked for, and received, all the flowers that had been placed around the fountain. We separated out the plastic wrappers, stuffed toys, books, boxes, and letters, and began a composting project. Our goal? Turn grief into something positive. For months we turned that mass of matter. It steamed. It decomposed. It became compost. We boxed up some of it, and several of us flew with it to the community garden closest to Ground Zero, where the compost was received, and placed in new soil for plants to grow, flourish, and nourish.
Yesterday, a kind soul offers my friend temporary shelter, and I bring a basket full of food. My plan is to drop off the basket and exit quickly, but when I arrive, I am invited to join the table as part of the family gathered. Even in the aftermath of such great loss, no words come close to expressing the love at the table.
Love. That’s what matters.
May you be blessed with family, friends, good food, and love today and every day.