The Water is Wide, I Can’t Cross Over…

There are not enough words to speak to the pain and grief, and rage, many of us are feeling at this time –the tragic deaths yesterday of so many young children, and their teachers, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde has a nation angry, grieving, and numbed by more senseless violence. There are so many immediate actions that ought to be taken by our government (and our governor) – ought to have been taken for some time now. And there are further societal, systemic realities that need to be addressed, the unchecked consequences of which often surface in such repeated acts of violence and the attending political rhetoric that feels so disingenuous and denying while the elephant resides all the more permanently in the living room.

These are the beyond urgent realities we seem to keep sidestepping. So, yes. The anger cannot be sidestepped! This dysfunctional reality of our country is seriously killing people, killing children! We need an intervention. Yes. We need greater control over access to guns. Yes. We need to mobilize the voting public. And yes! We also need a comprehensive look at the mental illness that is lurking just beneath the surface of our nation. We are an unavoidable family system. And we need an intervention.

So I’m not going to ask anyone to calm down, or to sidestep this tragedy. I’m not going to ask anyone to hold off on writing their political representatives or funding their particular cause’s lobbyists. Lots of folks are already lining up on both sides, all the while, we are still in the presence of a massive, unfathomable tragedy.

Maybe the most immediate need for some of us who are simply awash in sadness and grief is to breathe deeply and then refuse to allow the anger and frustration we’re also feeling to devolve into the same old divisive, denial-laden, rhetoric that continues to drive our national psyche. To be vulnerable and present to the grief in our bodies, in Uvalde, and in our nation, is a courageous, transformative act of self-care that can ultimately lead to community and national well-being.

I woke up this morning to James Taylor’s version of “The Water is Wide.” It’s always struck me as a tragic Irish love song, sad and mournful. But it occurred to me this morning, as I listened, it is really a song of deep hope and a belief in the redemptive possibilities of love. The boat we build to cross the wide waters of grief and loss, even anger, we must build together precisely because that’s the only way we get across. Together.

And so many folks still don’t get that – this inextricable destiny we are all so interdependently caught up in. It’s up to us to invite those “others” to see what we see, isn’t it? In as much as it feels up to us to force changes that ensure the safety of our schools and children, isn’t it also up to us to invite others to see this interdependence we have with one another that we seem to keep missing in the meantime? The families in Uvalde are in deep, unimaginable grief. Their friends grieve with them. Those who advocate for more gun control, as well as those who advocate for unchecked 2nd amendment rights both, also, grieve such a senseless and tragic death of children.

So, in my thinking, for now, maybe we honor those who are grieving elsewhere, and our own anger and grief, with the kindness and mercy we can bring to all of our encounters and all our speech, and the way we “tell life’s story,” throughout the day. And then to take some time to be with life in all of its revelations of beauty and terrible mystery. Even now, to look for delight in the darkness, and find ways to invite others to build this boat together.

Go in Pieces,


“to follow Jesus is to be a wholemaker,
essentially to love the world into new being and life.” – ilia delio


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