Saturday, July 23, 2011

tending to fragilities

What a strange thing it is to presume others do not have fragilities -- points at which the wound is too deep, the inability too compelling, the weakness too strong. And strange as well, the willingness to hide such fragilities from others and, more important, from ourselves.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh and an aviatrix in her own right, was once asked on television what it felt like to have a child kidnapped. The question, which had a certain idiotic and yet imperative quality, arose because in 1932, Charles Lindbergh Jr., 18-months-old, was kidnapped and found over two months later, dead of a massive skull fracture. The kidnapping was very big news at the time.

On hearing the interviewer's question so many years after the fact, Mrs. Lindbergh sat very still for several moments ... a straight, strong-looking woman with a strand of pearls. And when she finally did respond, the first words out of her mouth were, "I think everybody has suffered a tragedy...."

Whether posturing or camouflaging or defending her own fragility, I thought it was a wonderfully apt vision, one that offers everyone and anyone a soft landing in rough terrain. A tragedy, a fragility ... it's common rather than uncommon. It's human. It deserves care not because it is out of the ordinary but because it is so ordinary, not least from the person whose fragility and tragedy is so insistent.

Rather than imagine a fragility can be erased or hidden, how much better to gently but firmly embrace the thorns, to tend and watch after them.

It is a kindness we owe ourselves, I'd say. No one else can cure or eradicate a tragedy, so the kindness must be found at home.

At home, where the tragedy began.

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