What can we control?

A terrible thing happened this week. A tender young beautiful fruit orchard planted by my son and his friend was maliciously and purposely cut down, tree by tree. Shocking and horrifying, it has stunned us all. Why do people do things like this? To decimate a year's worth of work by a family of people for spite and hate. It takes determination and sweat to cut down 80 trees. What drives this behavior? What ugly satisfaction was derived from this? 

Even when we strive to live lives of purpose and good intention, bad things happen. We interface with people of ill will, those who cannot control their baser impulses. The old saw "when bad things happen to good people" comes to mind. 

How do we cope? What can we do? 

We can stand with each other in our sorrow. We can hold each other close. We can continue to try for compassion for each other and perhaps in the future, for the person/s who did the ugly act. But that, for me, is somewhere in the future. For now I am struggling to just release control. 

We cannot control the world. We cannot control the actions of others. We can lament their wrongness, we can feel our sorrow at the suffering. For even trees suffer. The remaining trees in the orchard felt the pain of their brethren even as they were cut down. I could feel the shock of those lucky to survive this outrageous act as they stood in their carefully tended spaces.

Mystery remains intact. We may never know for sure who did this. It is a mystery. We feel a need to know, we want to lash out and act or react. Mystery abides. Some mysteries, like what I feel when I look out at the stars, or across the ocean depths, are satisfying and enriching. Some, like this painful mystery of why why why? or who? are less satisfying. Yet the directive to release the need to control the outcome is the same. 

We can control our own thoughts, words and deeds. That is all. We cannot control others, however we may want to stop their acts we judge wrong and heinous. We retreat into the solace of our own integrity. We stand in the truth of our inner knowing that we are doing the best we know how in a world of confusion and upheaval.

I am hoping I can one day allow my own suffering over this to make me a more compassionate person. For everyone has known suffering. When I can remember this, I can soften my heart to the suffering of others, even when I may think their suffering is self-inflicted or even based on wrong information.  I like to think I don't deliberately choose suffering but realize I sometimes do. 

It's raining now. A gentle suffused gray has overtaken the brilliant sunshine of recent days. I think I'll go walk in it. Maybe I'll come to some kind of blessing or cleansing or something to shake this ache in my heart.