When There Are No Words

When There Are No Words

In the aftermath of a mass shooting of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue, my sorrow and outrage lead me to ask: Where is the safe place?

When there are no words, I breathe. I take in deep breaths, let them out slowly, until the words come. They come to me reluctantly, and then I have to breathe again until they flow more easily. When they cease to come, I breathe again, and finally, I take a break to make çay (Turkish tea) and drink it while I breathe.

People often ask me what I do to keep on writing. Am I ever at a loss for words? Often, I am these days and in these dark times. When the letters scrolled across my television screen, coldly breaking the news that 11 people were shot to death at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, I thought of my father’s uncle who was burned to death in a synagogue. I had to ask myself, why are we still in this same place, killing people for their beliefs or the color of their skin?

Throughout the centuries, people have been finding much better words to express the plight of humankind than I might produce in a lifetime. The arts help us to dispel anger and frustration over these questions that often appear unanswerable. I ask myself almost every day, what can I do? The only answer that comes to mind is to write. My mentor advises me that I am not in jail or prison yet, and so I am able to write. This reminds me how fortunate I am.

Looking for That Safe Space

Sometimes I wonder, where is there in this world that I could go and be safe? I am a Jewish woman. Both descriptions make me easy prey. And trust me, living here in New Mexico has been the happiest time in my life. Yes, my passport is renewed, and I could flee, but where would I go? This country has been a safe haven for Jews since the Holocaust. As we know all too well, Israel is not such a safe place.

There was a time I thought of buying a house in Turkey. Now I feel that I want to apologize to all the Turkish people who have fled here. They came here with nothing so they could live freely, just as my family did so many years ago. But what have they come to? We have our own despots and cowards right here. They have fled their beautiful culture and country only to find that we are on our own path of destruction. Yet and still, they are not imprisoned.

Time to Breathe

Now I am almost out of words. I cannot find any that have not been said before, over and over, only to be repeated in the next generation; that is, if humankind is even destined to have another generation.

I think it is time for me to breathe again. When I think of the babies and the children, the helpless creatures of our earth, my own spirit needs refreshing. So, I will retire for now and count my breaths until I have more positive words to write.



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