Like animals entering the ark, they gathered, two-by-two or three-by-three. Even four-by-four. But rarely one-by-one. They sought shelter, respite from the unsympathetic world.
And for three days, they found sanctuary, within the self and in the space between the self and other.
There were rituals all around, moments with tears and laughter and learning and growing and solitude and sharing and contemplation and confronting and love and compassion. And everywhere you turned, hearts were spilled onto the ground. Glasses brimmed with the tears of mourners. The recently acquainted held one another and weeped. The palisades of language, socioeconomic status, religion, ethnicity, and even age of child or cause of death were stripped away as we all stood naked in the midst of each other, clothed only with our suffering. On days like these, we realize what is truly important in our lives. On days like these, we bear no crimson masks. On days like these, we are reduced to our true, authentic selves, able now to recognize our own despair in the eyes of others. Magnificently painful and painfully magnificent.
On the final day, many hesitated to leave what we'd all come to recognize as a holy place. There were talks of the "painful re-entry" and the "envy of the normals." I believe one of the reasons people want to remain in this place is the sense of community we share... this communal milieu brings forth an aliveness in us that perhaps we've never before experienced. It's a sense of aliveness so palpable that it breathes into us.
Confronting death- and more importantly the carnage He left behind - seems to have given a renewed sense of life to hundreds of people this weekend at the MISS Foundation's 2010 gathering. It's not the old life of the normals. It's not the delicious naiveté in which we once existed. No. And it never will be again.
Many of us will remain indelibly changed by those extraordinarily raw moments in the ark. There, as our truth leaked out through fissures in the walls of our self, onto the floor, others tiptoed carefully around, so as not to disturb, recognizing something really big and really sacred is happening here.
And they stood with us, two-by-two or four-by-four, as witnesses to our spilling.