The answer to gun violence…

Yesterday a shooter opened fire at Seattle Pacific University, killing one and injuring several others. I sat forward in my chair when I read this because I have a number of friends who attend or teach at SPU. It was a strange feeling, two sides tugging at me; first about how unlikely it would be that someone I knew was involved and then the counter-thought of “well, you never know.”

We never do know.

Thankfully I discovered that my friends were safe. Consuming the information coming from my computer and television was about finding out this very thing. Are they safe? But I didn’t stop there. I kept consuming information that streamed out, long after I got what I needed. I was still hungry.

Or perhaps not.

There’s  a mindfulness aspect to eating. If I’m not careful I will sit and eat the food within arms reach without thinking. In restaurants I must move the bread basket far away from me to avoid it. Don’t even get me started on the “all you can eat” buffet. There’s a whole bounty of studies done on why we eat after we’re filled, after our body has what it needs on a physical level. We eat from boredom, out of fear, the loss of control, the specter of death. We are lonely and we are powerless and food is our savior and food is available. This fuel for our bodies can be our undoing. We eat until we feel nothing.

So I consumed the information and the pictures and the reports of eye witnesses. And I searched for articles on how and why it keeps happening because it seems as though it does just keep happening. Why universities? Why students? Why this university? Why these students?

Why?

We say that we do this in the name of change, in the name of reform and redemption but it’s ridiculous the amount of food set before us and the speed at which it is offered. When no good information comes quickly we are restless. We are angry. We are hungry.

Or perhaps not.

We think that this eating is about “doing” something, becoming more aware, solving the problem, knowing our place in the wide world, uncovering the mystery of “why.” But in that steady stream of meals eaten with no real regard for quality, nutrition or purpose we simply consume the information until we feel nothing.

The answer to gun violence will not come in the moments or the days after the tragedy from the banquet of information offered. It will not come out in steaming pans which sit under heat lamps ready for eager hands and mouths.  The answer to gun violence will come only when we experience the emptiness, when we sit in the grief of it. We forget our humanity if we rush from grief too soon. We forget what real hunger feels like, an aching inside, an emptiness, a weary body in need of fuel.

Perhaps we ought to back away from the table and just let that ache rise a while.

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pour me out…

This poetry Tuesday finds the fruits of a few weeks of long hand poetry composing. It was a valiant effort sitting at the cold desk, watching the trucks come down the alley outside my window, scrawling on that lined pad. It must have been an old and cheap lined pad because the pages kept falling out after I’d turn a page. Nevertheless, it pulled some poetic things out of me, I think. Most of them are disjointed, some of them are crap, a few of them are dark but not completely crap.

This one I wrote and then took to the computer to chop up and dress for the plate to be served. I don’t usually have trouble titling my poems so it’s weird to me that this one seems to defy any attempt I take to name it.  The best I could come up with was “Seven words for Gluttony” but I couldn’t really explain why I’d call it that if you asked, so…it remains Untitled.

Untitled

pour me out

when I am too full

of fear and pride

of choice and frailty

pour me out

when I am holding everything inside

life leaking

on sidewalks

on pillows

on staircases

pour me out

when I cannot know

how empty

will be

will feel

will look

until at last

I am no longer

drowning

in my own

parched

skin

pour me out

©adc 2012