Too often have I seen the effects of this choice. It is expressed in the complicated grief of friends and relatives, extending years after the event. It is seen in disconcerted community members, who may never have known the person, but somehow still absorb the sting of his or her choice. And descendants, unborn at the time of the death, often grapple with the legacy of suicide throughout their lives.
We are each endowed with a precious and animating energy. To harness that vitality and express it in this final, fatal act is to pay the ultimate homage to despair. And such a choice strengthens the predilection to suicide in our collective consciousness as well. Every time one of us chooses so, it increases the likelihood of that option for others.
Recently, Gaza was pummeled with bombs that burst into searing flakes of white phosphorus which burned deep into living tissue. Suicide is similar. The pain explodes, yet is flung far wider than chemical shards can ever travel.
And just as in Gaza, the fact that innocents are not the intended target does not lessen the agony as this corrosive element strikes and bores deep within.
Despair spreads. It may spread like wildfire or in a slow burn, but spread it does. Luckily for us, though, so does love.
We are intertwined, whether or not we feel it in a particular moment or wish it to be so. The choices we make ripple forth in ways we cannot always anticipate or understand. Each moment of every day, we are given opportunities to contribute to the collective stew. We can add distress and anger and mistrust, or we can offer hope and joy and love.
Our individual lives are strands in an incomprehensibly complex tapestry. This cloth, however, is not created by some unseen weaver, nor is it already formed and set for all time. It is a work in progress, and we are the weavers.
Each of us was given our thread at birth and placed at a point within this evolving fabric.Where we take that filament, how we weave it into the whole, is ours to decide. The art of living well urges us to choose consciously and wisely what our contribution will be.
Whenever a thread is severed through violent means, the strength and beauty of the entire work is diminished. But when a fiber is woven with care, especially through a darkened segment, it provides balance and grace to the entire creation.
And so this becomes the task of those wounded by suicide: to draw a brighter, life-enhancing thread forward out of the wreckage.
Tapestry, collective stew, the searing effect of white phosphorus bombs: all are images that speak to the truth of the interconnection that is life.
To respond to profound anguish by choosing suicide is to pay tribute to alienation and despair. By opting to seek out and allow solace instead, one can move forward through the bleak swatch with trust, honor, and love.
Either choice will have far-reaching effects.
In the words of Frederick Buechner, “The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.”
May we each aspire to the good touch.
Blessings to each of you!