I slowly join the shuffling procession of passengers waiting to board the 480 bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The faint indecipherable murmurs passing for conversation fitting for this hour on a Friday morning; an audible reflection of the fossilized overcast drizzling sky above and the ineffable heaviness of this protracted moment.
With her daughter delicately balancing on one arm, the young mother in front of me struggles to jerk her stubborn stroller to a fold, all the while trying to prevent her layered scarf from unraveling downwards.
“Can I help you out?”
“Sure,” she responds, unflinchingly passing me her little girl as she continues on with her determined struggle with the stroller and the storage belly of the bus.
A silent buzzing paralysis instantaneously consumes my senses.
My not expecting the immediate tenderness of a baby in my arms nor the penetrating innocently honest gaze of her hazel green eyes.
Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger
How to conceivably hold, for even the briefest of moments, the benevolent and cruel dichotomous essence of this human project?
How can we reconcile, even inadequately so, a time of seemingly eroding possibilities of living well together with the unbridled hope embodied in bringing a child into this world?
How to navigate senseless avoidable suffering and shocking reminders of our mortality and perishability with encounters of astonishment, vulnerability, generous care and reciprocity, where the self paradoxically dissolves and re-emerges?
All that we are. All that we are not. All that we were. All that we can possibly be.
Life’s wonder and pain and joy and glorious fragility subtly and guilelessly revealed in the tiny precious form in my arms.
Mercilessly breaks you down and builds you back up; heedlessly shatters you and restores you.
Not always – but this time at least.
At times oh so alone, lonely, isolated, empty and fearful; despairingly detached and disconnected.
Other times loving, loved, kindly curious, aware and attentive.
Yet always, for better or for worse, strangely inextricably entangled with each other; inescapably tethered to the earth, connected to all those alive and all those who had ever been alive.
“Thank you,” she says, taking her baby from my embrace.
David Wagoner. 1971. Lost.