On the way to school this morning, my son and I heard K.D. Lang’s cover of “Helpless” by Neil Young. We were quiet, reverent as we listened. I kept checking back on him in the rearview mirror. He was staring out the window, watching the salt marsh pass by, listening. When the song was over, I said, “I love that song,” and he said, “Me, too.” I had my sunglasses on and so he couldn’t see that I was crying just a little bit. I was struck by the quiet, poignant beauty of the song. I’d forgotten this song even existed. How had I forgotten that? How had I not always needed this song?

When we got to school, we saw a little girl get out of her car and almost immediately trip on the sidewalk. The art teacher was right there, giving her a hug, checking on her, and then her big sister came up beside her, checked on her, put her arm around her and walked her into school. I was moved by the caring of the big sister. She might have even been rolling her eyes a few minutes before in the car but when her sister needed her, she was there. As it should be.

I couldn’t stop thinking about this song and this scene on my way back home. I knew they were both important to my day but I didn’t know why just yet. Now, I do. What I needed was to be reminded that it is okay to feel helpless, to have moments of helplessness, to feel despair even. We can’t be any other than we are, falling down on the sidewalk, the feeling of shame and humiliation, which will linger, but soon start to sting just a bit less.

Coming up beside us there is always the possibility for beauty. The possibility for love. Coming up beside us is someone to lift us up.

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