Tom and Asmund 

I wake stunned by the reports of what happened in Oslo yesterday. It touches close to home because at 2:00 CT yesterday afternoon I was scheduled to have a video conference with a friend and colleague in Oslo. When I logged online to find Asmund, I found instead the first notices of what was going on over there…a bombing in Oslo, a report of shots fired at a youth camp outside of the city.

The scope of the pain is hard for me to register. Perhaps it is an innate skill we have that we cannot truly feel the pain of all suffering. I cannot really reach a place in my being where I experience the easily imagined losses of so many. My head knows many things about the horror. I know there are mothers and fathers who knew, as they heard the early news reports, that their own children were at that camp; friends and family are learning it was their friend, their child, their sister, their brother, their mother, their father who has been lost. I can know all this and yet not really feel it. Perhaps we would be incapacitated too often if we did fully feel the pain of others.

One thing I can feel is the collective loss of safety that is settling in on Oslo. There have been reports about the stunned silence as Norway comes to terms with the trauma and a loss of something more. In a very small way it is my loss too. It is all of ours.

I remember arriving in Oslo in the early morning hours in spring of 2006. There was a still quiet in the dark alley where we stopped. It seemed the eyes and ears of spirits watched us from high and low, a parade of characters, spray painted spirits, loomed in shadowy brilliance on every wall in every direction in the alley. In my mind we could have been in any dark alley, in any city, in any country. But Oslo is different.

My daughter and I had just arrived after a long flight from the U.S. We were far from home and tired. We were the quintessential travelers in the hands of lovely hosts we had just met. Our quest was to find her father and the other One People artists, rehearsing somewhere up some stairs and in one of these old buildings. We stepped away from the car that was still holding our money, our passports and all our traveling possessions. I stopped, waiting for our certainly diligent hosts to lock the car. Instead they chuckled. I remember being told that this is need to lock the car…a wave of something washed over me that I had no words for. The only thing akin I can imagine expressing my reaction is what it might feel like going out in the rain and not feeling any water on my face…I wasn’t in Kansas anymore or Minnesota or anywhere in the US for that matter. A small place inside me that never relaxes at home, relaxed.

Oslo is urban, global, and bustling with commerce, diversity, arts and industry. It has also been unique. It has nurtured peace and co-existence.

Today Oslo is in pain and tears and solemn silence. Oslo is most likely changed. Something is lost when there is violence. Defenses and walls go up where once there was vulnerability and trust. New lines are drawn in our hearts and in our paths forward.

How can I not cry?

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