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Guest Writer

by Beth Cooper

I stand at the sink, washing dishes.

Behind me, the radio speaks. I am compelled to listen, yet again, to descriptions of the wreckage; to stories of the missing and the dead, to the outpouring of rage and sorrow and utter incomprehension that now characterizes our lives.

I have heard this before. This morning. Last night. There is no new news, only a need to continue talking about it. I would like to turn it off. But I cannot. I am unable to dig through concrete and steel, or to account for the dead. The least I can do is listen to their stories.

Along with the rest of the nation, I mourn. I grew up with New York in my backyard. I know people. I know people who know people. Six degrees of separation has never seemed so close.

In my kitchen, three thousand miles away from the smoke and the dust and the endless layers of rubble, I am helpless. Big Things are moving, rolling, thundering forward and changing the landscape of life. The leaders answer with their own noise, assuring us that we are mobilizing to meet, and indeed overcome, these Big Things. We are supposed to feel relieved. They will take care of it. But we are still restless. Most of us just want something to do.

My job, right now, is to get the dishes done. When that is finished, I will water my plants as I listen to the stories. I will scratch my cat behind the ears. And when she jumps into my lap, I will laugh, and be surprised at the sound.

Big Things are moving, rolling, thundering forward. And I, in my kitchen, nurture and care for the life that I have been given, until I am needed elsewhere.

See more from Beth in our archives.

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