When I have Fears

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charactry,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the fairy power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

~John Keats

Aren’t humans beautiful at their best?

It’s just another manic Friday, here in the time of the pandemic.  Downstairs, the Hub finishes a social zoom call happy hour (not to be confused with the constant work related video calls he’s on by day) with his (our) kayak friends.  I cobble a dinner together of spring vegetables  and pasta thanks to our favorite local market.

It is a dance of sorts.  This balancing of our inner and outer exertions.  And this dance is different for each person, at each moment.  All good dancing requires moment to moment shifts and decision making.

The garden has been covered with pots and jars and sheets and towels tonight.  The frost is all over, at least as far as we are hearing from the forecasters.  And so we prepare, best we can.

The news in recent days is harder and harsher. We as a country flounder under a most inept and under-equipped leadership.  Not long ago there was a man at the helm  who while perhaps imperfect, was at the very least, empathetic.

The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

~Langston Hughes

Listening lately to Michelle Obama’s book Becoming  and watching the netflix documentary about her accompanying book tour, I have been brought to tears at where we have come to.  From grace and hope for a new world, to a floundering shadow of a dream.  I don’t know who we are any more.

I sit with the space of it all.  Setting boundaries where necessary (zoom calls ad infinitum (nauseum?) if I opted for it.) and do the best I can.  Yesterday I heard from my Auntie (my father’s sister), now in Virginia with her grand-daughter, and we had a lovely chat.  I marveled at the balance of it all as we talked.  Somewhere I have four “half” sisters whom I do not know, and who do not seem to care to know me.  We discussed this, openly and honestly, and it was good.  I revel in the family I do have.  My own dear sister and brother and the “steps” along the way.  We mix and match as best we can, over time.  I love them all so much.  Now perhaps now more than ever.

I am recently running the roads a lot, which brings me great solace.  I realize this is a privilege as I read about not only communities on strict lockdown around the world, but of Aumaud Aubrey, who was murdered while running in a Georgia neighborhood on a sunny afternoon.  Finally a public outcry leads to the arrest of his murderers.  But I wonder, what took so long?  I run with and for Aumaud of late.  Praying step by step for his family.  It is all too much to take in.

In the long run, I must admit though, this space, with all its heartbreak and uncertainty is for me, personally, and just now, an ok thing.  I am breathing and resting, even amidst this crazy pandemic, which is an unexpected gift.  I recalibrate at home, supporting the businesses and organizations I hope will still be present when this all passes eventually, supporting my family and friends along the way too. (Did I mention the wee red dragon, my ER nurse sister’s dog, Ari is back with us??) This is all I can do.

This too shall pass,  and this I believe.  But we will never go back to what was Before.  Perhaps we shouldn’t.   I have the gift of a great re-thinking here at home, the results of which I do not yet know the outcome (do we ever?)  And so I read, and write letters, plant seeds and paint and play tunes.  I walk and run and pray along the way as well, such that it is.  It’s all very Jane Austen in some sense.

But I welcome this spaciousness such as it is, such how it comes….

“We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel,
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheels depends.

We turn clay to make vessel,
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.

We pierce doors and windows to make a house,
And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.

Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.”

― Lao-Tse

In an act of hope for the future, I planted asparagus this week

Do we collectively even know what we have here just now?  In this time of crisis, can we even recognize the level of love possible?   I hope so.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

                                 ~Derek Walcott

Keep well y’all.  I love you.

Ps. Did I mention that Michelle Obama actually sent a tweet my way with well wishes for my sister who is a front line worker as an ER nurse!!?  We were all thrilled, fan-girling big time all through the family via text and email.  I hope Michelle Obama knows the bright torch she carries and the hope she holds for all of us. It must surely be a great burden to bear.  I am in awe of her and her family and wish them all well.

 

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