Sometimes there is nothing I can do, again.

This was first published March 18, 2011

I want to help. I want to solve problems. I want to help you take care of whatever is going wrong.

When someone calls with a question, with a concern, with a problem, I want to fix it. When someone is unhappy, I want to make them happy. When there is an earthquake, I want to help, I want to do something, I want to show care.

Sometimes there is nothing I can do.

I want to respond immediately. I want to be there on the ground, with answers and hands and presence. When I can’t, I want to watch, all the time. Wondering what is going on. Imagining the worst and the best. I spend minutes of time and hours of heart watching for the smallest sign of opportunity or assembling more pieces of the immensity of the problem, so I can say “Isn’t it awful? Did you hear the latest?” As if, I suppose, passing on information to someone who doesn’t know counts as helping.

Sometimes there is nothing I can do.

Watching private traumas and public disasters recently, I’ve learned that I become consumed by trying to find the smallest piece of something to do.

But sometimes there is nothing I can do.

And the time I spend staring or fretting keeps me from turning to the woman that I share life with and saying, “I can do nothing for them for the moment. What can I do for you?” The time I spend worrying keeps me from turning to God and saying, “Would You do something? Or show me what to do? Or help me trust you because it’s hard at this moment? Please?”

Or I could sit and write this. And we can do nothing together. Because sometimes nothing done together IS something. It’s community.

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