|With empty hands, I take hold of the plow|
I was already shaken. My beloved women friends and I had been sharing the general pain of the Sandy Hook shootings here in America - 20 schoolchildren, six teachers, and two mentally ill people all died. The mentally ill people were Nancy Lantz and her son, Adam. Nancy owned at least five weapons, including the semi-automatics that can kill a lot of kindergartners in a minute, whether you can aim or not. But Adam knew how to aim -she'd taken him target shooting. And he knew where to get his hands on guns. Nancy was a brand of everyday walking-around paranoia, a survivalist, who'd stocked up on food and water and guns.
A lot has already been accomplished. I read this morning that various of the United States, including my own Ohio, have passed funding for the treatment of autism. So many of us have petitioned the White House that President Obama has replied via a video. People are turning in guns in Connecticut, where they understand now that people with guns kill people. But the work is far from done.
It is our work as people of good will, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, all citizens, to stay with this work, but not to let it destroy us. I awoke this morning realizing that I need to bring myself back emotionally from too much empathy and emotion. It is a very good motivator, but the work of change needs a clear head. So there's a Zen koan, "With empty hands I take hold of the plow." I can actually visualize this, hands relaxed on the plow. (The painting above is one of several van Gogh made of ploughmen.)
The empty hands mean we work from our understanding of the universal, of all the dynamic and potential of life. So we need to be refreshed by spiritual practice and by celebration, by love and friendship and our understanding of the constant miracle of birth.
|Botticelli, The Birth of Christ (attended by the animals)|