Sunday, March 13, 2011

Brooke, the wave, and a life persepctive

Take a good look at the photo posted here. Look again. A little while ago I finished a phone call from Brooke Donnell who is currently in Japan assisting medical relief efforts. Brooke is Irish. I met her and her soon to be beau in 2009 in Raleigh at a Celtic Woman show. Since then we have become good friends and of late she has been very supportive in some internal struggles I've been having. Brooke is an MD of the natural sort and was heading for China to spend a few months learning additional herbal uses. Her boyfriend Sean is a musician and was to join her after he finished some studio work in the states. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan changed all that. She found her way via creative means to Japan. It then took her awhile to find her way into the system and a place on a team headed for Sendai. It took her almost 24 hours to get there. It is still a very dangerous place and she asked me to convey her story. I'll do more than that as the photo I came across here sent me literally waves of thoughts and perspectives. Be warned that this blog post could be quite long.

Brooke found the country in turmoil yet in orderly turmoil. She said the Japanese people, though in shock, were resilient and focused. She made her way to a hospital and was directed to an aid group of foreign workers. In short order, after looking at her credentials she was assigned a team and soon treating some people in a Tokyo suburb before getting on a transport headed north. She said the roads were a mess and choked with traffic and as she got closer more debris. They took a rather circuitous route to eventually arrive near the very large and heavily damaged city of Sendai. She is now treating masses of injured. She is tired, hungry, and a bit scared as Irish are not exactly used to earthquakes. She has only brief spurts of internet and phone available and Twitter is her best route right now. She and Sean share the Twitter page but it's new and they aren't all that energetic about letting people know about it. The call ended abruptly as she said it might. She plans to stay as long as needed and Sean will join her. She said she was playing Celtic Woman's Lullaby CD and also Máiréad Nesbitt's Raining Up CD for her patients at a make shift facility. She said she wished she had more of her own supplies but is making do with what she has learned in natural healing and therapy. As she was talking I went online to look at photos and found the one posted here. It stunned me and when the call ended I simply stared at the image. Please pray for all those in the disaster zones in both Japan and New Zealand in these ongoing tragedies. God bless you, Brooke, for being there and taking the risks to save lives.

My own troubles and concerns suddenly paled in light of Brooke's conversation and this photo I cannot stop looking at. It accented part of what I had been concerned about but set aside all the rest. Look at this photo closely again. What if you were in one of the cars you see in the picture? Here is a huge wall of water and a roaring sound. You look up and all you see is this massive wave about to end your life. What are you thinking right now? What will your final thoughts be about? What is the most important thing you will leave behind? Or have you been just like that wave in your own life and left in your wake nothing but debris and destruction? Do your petty jealousies and hate matter? Does what or who you control matter? Do your money and possessions matter? All you will truly leave behind will be the legacy of how you treated others and the words that ring in their ears and in their hearts.

It is Lent right now. A time when we Christians reflect on the life and words of our savior Jesus Christ. What did He leave behind? Important lessons and words that survive to this day. The kindness and gentleness yet firm resolve of what was and has always been right. There is no stuff. Just the thoughts and memories of those who knew Him and His own words. In the end that is what each of us leave that truly matters. Some leave that in the form of the written or spoken word. Some leave it in music. Some leave it in a painting, drawing, or sculpture. Then there are the memories and stories of you passed along by family, friends and co-workers. Are they good ones? Are the last words you utter to anyone ones of anger or hate? Look at the photo again. Life is that short. It can end that quickly. There is no time for petty complaints. There is no time for your own agenda. The wave is here. In one form or another that wave will take you. What were the people in this scene doing the day before the wave took them? What are you doing and saying today? The wave is coming. Look at the photo again. If the person you dislike the most were the only one within reach of you as the wave bent over you would your hate matter any more? Stop. Look at the photo again. To all of you who read this blog you can see in all the previous posts little lessons good and bad. You can see both peace and conflict. You can see trivial concerns but also deep beliefs and strong emotions. As I look at the photo again I know what matters and I know what I want to leave behind as the wave looms over me and it isn't hate, anger, jealousy, control, or useless stuff. It is the power of love in the spoken and written word of poetry and prose. Each day is a huge gift. Did the people about to be swept away by this wave know that? Do you?

I have been inspired over the past almost four years to write. That inspiration has come in large part by an amazing Irish fiddler and by some of the most moving music on the planet. She and her friends and their music are a healing force. I just read a paper the other day while judging a science fair that reinforced that power in the right kind of music. Inspiration at times has come from other places as well. But there can be no more powerful image than the one posted here to shake one into the reality of how quickly life can end and how important every moment leading up to it can be. Let your inspirations move you to create and not destroy. Be a positive force in the lives of others and surround yourself with positive and uplifting things that inspire you all the more. Then when that wave comes to you all you need to think about is the one you love most and to utter the simple words, "I love you. Goodbye."



  1. Thank you, Scott. I wish everyone in the world could read these words.

  2. "You know not the day or the hour" I had a hard time pulling my gaze away from the image as well, Scott. Thank you you for sharing it as well as your thoughts. It really does put our petty daily grievances into perspective.