chamomile flowersOn Sunday, I bought a bouquet of chamomile flowers at Whole Foods for five dollars. After trimming them down, I bundled them into a stainless steel tumbler and put them on a stack of books beside our kitchen doorway.

Almost every time I walk to and from the kitchen, I bury my face in the buds and inhale deep. The scent is one of earth. It’s subtle and grounding. The fragrance carries little of the sweetness that you might find in the petals of a rose, but the chamomile scent makes me feel calm and clear in a way that very little has this week.

The whole world knows of the events in Orlando. The devastation and raw distress that those directly impacted are feeling is something I think many of us are also dealing with, be in it much smaller and less severe waves.

A loved one told me a few days ago that it felt strange, perhaps even insincere, to be so affected by the violence and loss of life when we knew no individual who was killed. I contend that to not be affected would be to deny a piece of our humanity. It is only in that humanity that we may somehow find a true direction forward.

Forty nine people died in a most inhumane and grotesque way early Sunday morning. I have no answers. I have no words. I keep hearing this verse, over and over in my head, from a song in the musical “Hamilton.”

There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable
The moments when you’re in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down

Almost three weeks ago, the father of a very dear friend died of a terrible, incurable disease. A week later, I learned of a woman — a public speaker, mother to three and foster mother to three more — who suffered a seizure and temporarily lost her ability to speak. And this past Friday, a local Denver photographer — a decent, kind man, with great talent for his craft — died suddenly and unexpectedly in his sleep.

So much loss and profound pain. So much uncertainty and fear.

I’m not sure there are any “right” words for moments like these. The older I get, the more I realize that there truly are moments that words can never reach.  All I do know is that I have to continue to believe in the power of loving our fellow human beings. It is OK to feel dismayed and overwhelmed. It is OK to cry. Maybe even cry several times a day. But don’t lose sight of the pronounced impact that comes from sharing our compassion, promoting the dignity of all people, and holding tight to the notion that in giving our love we can create powerful antidote to the immense hurt in this world.

The woman I mentioned above encourages people to “show up” in life. Show up for others. Show up for those in need. Though it is still (I believe) unclear what exactly happened to make her lose her voice, she has since recovered. She again remembers who she is and who her children are, and has regained her sense of purpose.

So, even in the face of all this I want to remind you that you are not alone. There is power in showing up. Even if it’s in a small way, in a manner that perhaps feels insignificant. Showing up is one of the most meaningful things we can do for each other on a daily basis.

Let’s all make an effort to do so.

Take care of yourselves, dear ones.


SIGNED, anya elise

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