Like many of you, I’ve been following the news about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, smiling whenever I hear more news of her recovery: she’s breathing on her own, she smiled at her husband, she gave him a neck massage, she stood on her own two feet without assistance. Today she scrolled through an I-pad and tried to speak. Her husband, Mark Kelly, told the press today, “She’s a strong person, a fighter….In two months you’ll see her walking through the front door of this (Tucson hospital) building.”
Why these sentences thrill me and so many others has everything to do with something we know in our heart of hearts about resilience, healing and miracles. Who doesn’t love a come-back kid, a contender, or a very upbeat, strong, hard-working public servant who beats the odds? Who doesn’t love a story in which love trumps hate, and the power of community and even nation turns toward holding someone fighting for her life in our collective light? In her healing, she becomes our pal, sister, daughter, cousin, old friend we now recognize.
This is not to say that there was anything lacking in those six people — young and old, Republican and Democrat, Christian and Jewish — who were gunned down in Tucson, or those unnamed ones still recovering physically or emotionally from this life-shifting event. This has been a hard time all the way around — in the past week, two of my close friends lost their mothers, and various people I know keep saying “this is just a weird $%&#% time.” But there’s something that pulls me forward when I hear about Gabby Gifford.
It’s a little and a lot like the return of the light, tipping back toward us since we crossed the winter solstice. Yet it’s also exactly what it means to look into the dark night — cold here but not so much in Tucson — and see the beauty of the dark in the dark. Here are the stars. Here are the changing skies. Here is that large round moon through the clouds. The beauty right there even in the darkest moments is made of strength, tenderness, and a heart so open because it’s broken. “There’s a crack in everything,” Leonard Cohen sings. “That’s how the light gets in.” But it’s also how we learn to dwell in the dark, letting the tiny and large miracles — like Gabby Gifford saying her first word again sometime soon — speak to who we really are and always were, beneath the labels and ideas that separate us.
Hearing the latest news on Rep. Giffords brings all of us home, one people, somewhat messed up and wounded, broken in various ways and flawed in more, but also miraculous.