Last weekend, I was at a basketball tournament in Butte with my 13 year old. And near the end of our 4th and final game, the ref stopped the game. TIME OUT. There’s a little kid on the court. I look up and see it’s my kid on the court and I can see him explaining to the ref that he was on his way to wash his hands. I can tell this by the way he is looking up at the ref and showing him his sticky red, candy covered hands.
But, I don’t move. I don’t run over to rescue him. I think the ref will just steer him back out of bounds and the game will go on. So, I look away for a moment and then I hear, “Who is the parent?” Ugh! I raise my hand and take a now quivering-lipped, sticky-handed boy into my arms. And we walk to the bathroom out of the bounds together.
The thing is…
sometimes I just don’t want to look. In this case, I turned away for a moment hoping the whole thing would resolve itself without my involvement. Because when I was a younger mama, I reacted quick and swift. Now, I often wait and see because I’ve learned that many things don’t necessarily need my intervention.
But, in this case. I needed to look. I needed to be the one to raise my hand. To walk toward…
Sometimes it’s just easier not to look. Easier, but not better. Easier, but not right.
There’s another thing I wanted to turn away from last weekend. A thing I didn’t want to witness.
There are many things I don’t want to turn and look toward.
I don’t want to see the men in orange kneeling before their captors waiting for their blood to be spilled.
I don’t want to listen as people strangle Brian Williams with their words for his untruths.
I don’t want to know about Kim Kardashian’s rear end and I don’t want to talk about yoga pants.
I don’t want to hear that there are at least 20.9 million adults and children who are bought and sold worldwide.
I don’t want to see all the cruelty and harshness and stupidity and ugliness of this world.
I want to look at rainbows and sunsets and hear the giggles of little ones.
I want to see life and not death. Beauty not ashes. Kindness not hatred.
But, I live in this very world and so I have to look. I have to know what the world is doing. I have to engage in the conversation. Because who am I that I can look away from injustice and unkindness and ridiculousness and not say something? Not do something?
When I don’t look it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. It just means I’m checking out. I’m putting my hand down. I’m turning away.
I have to TURN AND LOOK to know that there are 21 families who lost loved ones. Men who died horrifically. I have to pray for them because it is the only thing I can do. But it is a thing I. Can. Do.
I have to be able to turn and look at the ugly, but not be consumed by it. I have to balance the knowing of the horrors with the beauty of this home, this family I live each day with.
So I look. Because witnesses are important. To the 21 men who died bravely, to their families who mourn, I can say…
I see you.
I didn’t turn away.
I witnessed your sacrifice.
You were brave.
It was horrible.
You are not alone.
My looking doesn’t save them. But, the practice of not looking away might just help me see someone else who holds a sign asking for help or a child lost or a mama scared and hurting.
Not looking away might just be a practice that becomes a purpose.
It might just be the thing that takes ashes and turns them into beauty.