Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I think about Japan, the Mideast, Haiti, Africa. The front page of our newspaper tells the story of a beautiful young woman who applied drain cleaner to her face, claimed it had been splashed on her by a stranger, and now lives disfigured with the course of her life forever changed. I read a memoir about women in prison, many there for long years as punishment for crimes in which they were the biggest victims.
So much suffering. More, it seems, than historically usual, although how would we ever know?
Most of us live lives of relative ease and some semblance of security. We're mostly healthy, surrounded by abundance, love and are loved. We have suffered, do suffer, will suffer - that's the thing about being human. And while the comforts we take for granted today could all be gone in a blink, we tend to move forward with optimism and grace.
Mostly we choose to be grateful for what we have, to pray for those less fortunate than ourselves, and to embrace whatever comes as part of the adventure we signed on for when we were born.
This spring that is more winter than winter was has worn my optimism to tatters, even knowing how small this suffering is in the bigger picture - a tiny prickly bush in the larger forest of sad and pain-gnarled trees. The damp chill seems to have somehow frozen hope, and drained energy like a battery left outside on a below zero night.
For the first time in my life, I check the weather forecast in the mornings, hoping beyond hope to see gold among the gray, and temperatures that would render my breath invisible. Finding gold to be an extreme rarity in the last two months, I pray for weather experts to be wrong, as they are more often than not. The problem this season has been when they are wrong, we get snow instead of sunshine.
The usual gifts of spring have been arriving since February, not in their customary lushness, but present nonetheless.
Crocuses and hyacinths and forsythia bloomed and are now gone. The flowering plum hesitantly blushed its way through March, and is beginning to lose its pink before ever reaching the full glorious glow it offers most years. Birds mate, nest and sing the arrival of day as they do every spring. Trilliums announce the coming of Easter. The neon green of cottonwoods buds flickers itself into gray air. Thatch ants take advantage of every dry or warm second to swarm and build mounds that will double their current size before the end of summer.
I marvel that so much life abounds in conditions that are colder and wetter than most days we had midwinter.
And maybe that's what keeps us all going, no matter the level of our suffering, discomfort or loss at any given time. Life finds a way, even in the chill of grieving or the shift of climate or the predictability of death. We hold and celebrate the rare warm moments of sunlight, offer our inner light to those sitting in darkness, and learn to wait, to simply be, without despairing.