Driving home from a delicious dinner of Indian food today, in a part of our very diverse suburb that is home to so many immigrants (many of them Muslim) and for whom I am now fearful, I told my partner, “You know, I think I get why this week is so hard. I’ve been so hopeful about the future. And now it feels like someone sucked all the air out of the room, and I don’t know that I will ever be happy again. I spent my entire childhood in the shadow of the Cold War, always aware that today could be the day the Soviets bombed us. And when that was over, I thought I’d never feel that kind of existential dread again. But here we are.”
I hadn’t thought about the scared child I was, back in the dark days of the nuclear threat from the USSR, in a long time. The prairies on which I was raised are home (or at least were) to any number of nuclear silos, and I well remember my parents pointing them out on roadtrips and explaining that if the Soviets chose to drop the bomb on us, the response would come from those drab cinderblock buildings in the midst of the grasses and soybeans. And that everything, including us, would be gone in a flash of blinding light.
My siblings, a bit older than I, remember doing duck-and-cover drills in elementary school.
My parents, children of the Great Depression and World War II, had memories of air raid sirens and, in my New York born mother’s case, blackout curtains.
In this way we carry the trauma of generations forward.
Though it has been many years since I considered myself even nominally Christian, one concept from my Church of Christ upbringing I have always found moving was the idea of grace. Of asking to be granted grace, of being willing to grant another grace in a particularly trying or difficult moment.
Just for today, I grant myself the grace to nurture myself with warm blankets, hot chocolate, and comforting television.
Just for the weekend, I grant myself the grace to take a break from my social media, to take a pause from the intense organizing work I’ve been doing, to allow myself to choose not to have a difficult conversation.
Just for now, I grant myself the grace to laugh, to find humor, to seek comfort, to seek joy.
Just for now.
I grant myself the grace.