The beginning of last spring was a particularly dark time for me. I was feeling like you do when you’re swimming and you’re deep under water holding your breath, and you can see the sunlight streaming through the surface, but it feels just a bit too far to get all the way up there to breathe, to live. Like your lungs might explode, like you’re a little dizzy with how long you’ve been under the surface, like the cold and dark and stillness pushing in…are…what Is. Maybe some of us feel like that again and are not really able to put words to all of the aspects of it. Or maybe we could put words to it, but it is much more personal and vulnerable than unweildy and hard phrases like “systematic injustice.” And much more the name or story of someone we know or knew. Or the difficult to speak feelings of dread and sorrow and lament that somehow get stuck or lost amid debate and confusion and ever-changing headlines.
And there is in all of this just the dailiness of life: the exhaustion of lingering illness, difficulties in jobs, sleepless nights. And trying to have real conversations with our friends and spouses and children and parents about what it really looks like to love another as myself. And trying to do that. When I get to these places, it often helps to look back. To see how life and sustaining and even singing can come. To see the many gifts, even in the darkness, that carry us through.
Of the end of winter but not yet spring:
Yes it feels like a dark night.
Even as the twilight is later
And the first evening star winks at me from the small cement porch,
the still bare branches reaching up
and that aggressively hopeful blue sky.
Sitting out with my babies—
bare, cold feet on the cement,
singing with the birds,
singing to the neighborhood.
Mostly engulfed in bewilderment,
mostly clothed in despair.
We three together, this is miracle alone, no?:
these two separate people who grew in my body.
Our own Psalm going out to meet the coming dusk,
throwing off sadness,
throwing off the cloak of mourning.
They teach me the deep joy, again.
Take me by the hand,
lead me out.
The darkness disappearing, even just briefly
as we call out to the still hibernating world
with our loud, live presence,
with the laughter we didn’t know we had.