Home for the Holidays
Our instinct at the end of the year usually is to gather happy images. We draw our families close, put up our decorations, go to events, exchange visits with friends and neighbors, and plan meals, large and small. We go home in whatever way our traditions guide us. Our holidays make us both happy and sad. As we turn inward and settle around our own hearths, we consider what is missing in our lives; what’s broken that we would like to fix, if we can.
We also consider what this passing year brought into our lives and the lives of friends, neighbors, and our communities, our country and around the world. For many of us this year felt more challenging than many and we’ll end it not with images of sugar plums but images of the damage wrought by the unspeakable horror at Newtown’s Sandy Hook school, by the stunning and persistent losses caused by Hurricane Sandy, and by the lives forever altered by Jerry Sandusky and those who looked the other way.
Jon Bon Jovi sings, “Who says you can’t go home again?” But the reality is that, around the world, so many men, women and children can’t go home this year. Some homes have been the site of some emotional distress that has destroyed that essential feeling of safety. Some houses simply disappeared. A 62-year-old woman on Staten Island, making her way across a water-logged marsh where her home had been cried, “where’s my house!? I want to go home. But there is no house. I can’t go home.” Her cry is echoed around the world; in too many war-ravaged countries in Africa, in Syrian refugee camps on the Turkish border, in the Gaza Strip – and in Israel – and, still, among Japanese refugees who lost everything in the March 2011 tsunami. The world is full of wanderers on unasked for pilgrimages.
There is much to complain about in America and we must do that. But as we take this end-of-the year deep breath, those of us who have shelter and peace might take a moment to recognize that these two critical underpinnings that allow us to create and maintain our sense of safety and security, something most of us have had the luxury of taking for granted, have become increasingly fragile in a world where nature and humans are constantly at work.
Lyn May is WWN’s editor