So we have been in Washington, D.C. for three days, 300 of us, listening to hours and hours of presentations, and walking the halls of Congress and sharing our stories, trying to bring names and faces and emotional impact to the statistics about suicide which we rattle off as efficiently as we might the facts and figures pertaining to car sales or carbon emissions, if those were the things we knew about.
But instead what we know about is what a friend and I discussed over dinner last night. She is a mental health professional from another city and I am a pastor here; her daughter died in high school, and my son just after college. We have these conversations late at night in cities far from home, after we have knocked ourselves out to be the change, or something close enough.
. . . we talk about what we saw and touched and held about those precious bodies and about autopsies and medical examiner reports and hospitals and morgues and organ donation and and funeral homes and crematoriums about things of which we never speak to anyone else anyone at all things which no one asks about no one wants to know we described to one another parts of our experiences which we did not share in common wondering what happened then, and then, and how did you think to ask that, and we talked about what we believe and think and wonder about God and what we don't and what matters to us and what no longer makes any difference we carry all this around and especially those grotesque physical details which happened and which we saw but who could believe any of it but all together it forms the core of who we are and shapes everything we do . . .
Tomorrow we will get up and go about our lives; she has a full day of work in a clinic on the West Coast and I have a community meeting and a pastoral visit and two Bible studies to teach and lots of other things to catch up on, and when people tell us about issues of their lives we do not say any of it out loud but it is why we say or do things the way we say or do them and so be it.