After describing in a steady voice and in clinical detail the wounds he was managing – wounds from several of the child victims of the Uvalde massacre – a San Antonio trauma doctor interviewed by the New York Times, “The Daily” podcast, was asked, “What will you remember most from that day?”
With his voice finally cracking he said, “people coming together to help another person, a child, when they need it the most. It is the most beautiful thing …. That’s what I will remember. It’s the beauty, it’s the beauty.”
Trauma specialists must be a different breed. To emerge from the other side of horror and see beauty? What does this say about them? What message does it send to us?
Last month, I was invited by St. Michael’s College in Vermont to offer the commencement address to the Class of 2022. Having graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati 40 years ago to the day, I reminisced about what has happened with my own life and career over that time: telling the graduates of both triumph and trial.
They, too, will face twists and turns, but I urged them to find purpose and meaning by cultivating a daily practice of gratitude. Gratitude helps orient us when the ground shifts beneath our feet. In gratitude, we see that even in despair, there is goodness, hope and life. The trauma doctor tells us this is true.
We can also look to our faith for this truth. The church’s social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society.
Included is the truth that all life is precious – from the child in the womb, to the adult in a grocery store, to the 10-year-old in an elementary classroom, and current and future generations around the world threatened by our changing climate.
With the grounding of love, action, faith and solidarity we can find our way out of darkness and death.
There is much good to be found in working to care for our common home. And much frustration: time is short, lives are at stake. But let’s focus on gratitude for each other, for this opportunity, for the hard work ahead and the commitment to life and the creation we share.
Let’s do what we must, in love, to save the children of today and tomorrow.
Dan Misleh is the founder of Catholic Climate Covenant, based in Washington, D.C. Learn more at CatholicClimateCovenant.org.
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