Another year has come and gone, my beloveds, and what a year it has been. Our monthly theme for December is silence, and while the softness of the snow-covered earth is ideal for engaging a contemplative life during the winter months, I also fear the hard side of silence — of unintended, unwanted isolation, especially as we continue to navigate this global pandemic.
As I was struggling to write this month’s column, to offer you kind and comforting words that I myself would want to hear in this season, I came upon an article written this week by Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. I don’t often turn over my entire column to another writer, but sometimes, another’s words are so good that I don’t feel I could improve upon them without holding myself up as the pinnacle of arrogance. So I offer to you this excerpt from the Duchess’s editorial.
In gratitude and faith,
When I was in my late teens, I sat in the back of a taxi zipping through the busyness and bustle of Manhattan. I looked out the window and saw a woman on her phone in a flood of tears. She was standing on the sidewalk, living out a private moment very publicly. At the time, the city was new to me, and I asked the driver if we should stop to see if the woman needed help. I remember him telling me. “Don’t worry, somebody on that corner will ask her if she’s OK.”
Now, all these years later, in isolation and lockdown, grieving the loss of a child, the loss of my country’s shared belief in what’s true, I think of that woman in New York. What if no one stopped? What if no one saw her suffering? What if no one helped? I wish I could go back and ask my cabdriver to pull over. This, I realize, is the danger of siloed living — where moments sad, scary or sacrosanct are all lived out alone. There is no one stopping to ask, “Are you OK?”
So […] as we plan for a holiday unlike any before — many of us separated from our loved ones, alone, sick, scared, divided and perhaps struggling to find something, anything, to be grateful for — let us commit to asking others, “Are you OK?” As much as we may disagree, as physically distanced as we may be, the truth is that we are more connected than ever because of all we have individually and collectively endured this year.
We are adjusting to a new normal where faces are concealed by masks, but it’s forcing us to look into one another’s eyes — sometimes filled with warmth, other times with tears. For the first time, in a long time, as human beings, we are really seeing one another.
Are we OK?
We will be.
~ Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex