Darkness at dawn


I only know it’s raining from the sound. Outside is deep darkness. There has been a death in the family, news of a life-threatening illness, a natural disaster, an unnatural disaster, a house fire, a child claimed by asthma. My hands shake, I feel weak and sick as with an icy fever. My heart aches and a fresh wave breaks.

I am standing alone in my mother’s kitchen, gripped by the terror that only reality can serve up. She has just been unable for the first time to get out of bed. She lies upstairs in sweet docility, if not resignation. Later, I will bring her strawberries and dolmas on a tray with a daffodil in a bud vase. It’s been a beautiful spring, not that she’s been able to go outside to enjoy it.

I’ve been up since 4:00 a.m., when I couldn’t help checking the news. This thing is bigger than any of us can imagine. I know that. And right here, right now, I will not try to talk myself out of my emotions. This is one place I can be completely honest.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep.

It is important for awake people to be awake.

The poets have this. They will help me to face this catastrophe with the grace and grit of a terminal patient. Because I am, after all, terminal. At least this precious lifetime is finite. Who know what goes on beyond and beneath it?

I indulged in a tour through my Facebook feed. Some folks profess love and compassion and a call to greater service. They look on the bright side, peer courageously into the deep shadows. Evoke pyres and bonfires and somber dancing. I am not there yet.

Some are flinging the usual ‘if-only’s and ‘I-told-you-so’ rants. Bernie would have won. The third party voters lost it. Clinton is arrogant and untrustworthy and never should have run.

Others rail against the stupidity of Trump supporters and the selfish venality of the weathly elite who secretly voted for him to hedge their assets.

And there are plenty of folks in despair for their children and for every “minority” – that is, those of us who are not white, hetero, male.

For the children. I think of Gary Snyder’s beautiful poem. Will I ever again be able to go light?

When I was fourteen, my son’s age now, Watergate was in the recent past. We had just celebrated our country’s Bicentennial. Still, my chief concerns were boys, school, and my hairstyle. What sort of future does my son see now? What do any of us see?

Yesterday, after voting, I felt so hopeful and touched by the momentousness of it. A gaggle of nine-year-old Girl Scouts stood out front selling cookies. How fitting, I thought. They’ll grow up with a woman president, proof that their dreams are real. That anything is possible.

I am in shock. I can’t yet relate to the anger of the finger-pointers and I-told-you-so’ers. Can’t feel the optimism of the bright-siders. Nor fully the despair of those who take it upon themselves to point out the obvious: just how shockingly racist and sexist our country is. At least 25% of our country.

Black dog times, indeed. I feel inclined to write about the stages of grief and share mythic stories around a campfire.

I think I will cry a lot in the coming days. The way I learned from my wise and compassionate friend when my parents died, to give over to the waves of grief. To let them wash over me. To be tender and kind, and honor the experience.

I am afraid for the earth, of all things. As if this great living, breathing, feeling, conscious Being, this Mother, needs my fear. I fear for my son’s future, for my own. For the futures of people of color and of all faiths.

There is ugliness all around us. Now, more than ever, it is time to put beauty into the world. It is my sacred duty as an artist to walk in beauty, to see beauty all around me, to share what I see, hear, and feel. As an act of service. And an act of love.

When I got home yesterday after voting, a hawk swooped to ground level right near me for a brief unprecedented visit. He flew into our little side garden and perched on the stone wall where my dog tells me the chipmunks live. (I later learned that Sharp-shinned Hawks—and what a name!—are bird eaters, so the chipmunks need not worry.) Thanks to the Internet, I have my marching orders:

“Hawk is often a messenger from Angels, Devas and the Divine. He signals a time in your life when you need to focus on what’s ahead and prepare for a leadership role. Your global vision is a potent helpmate in this.”

I cannot know where any of this is going. I will continue to follow my aching heart, with help from hawk and red, heart-shaped leaf, and blue sky and rain.

3 thoughts on “Darkness at dawn

  1. Very interesting about the messages of Hawks. Yesterday morning I was walking out of my house to my office (before voting) when my attention was drawn to the dueling call of two Red Tailed Hawks. I stood there transfixed by their conversation as one of them came into view. Not sure what they were talking about but it was obviously very important to them. I watched and listened for about 5 minutes or so and could still hear them calling to each other as they flew into the distance down the creek behind the house. My take away – life goes on, act accordingly.

  2. Such good words! To open our hearts to feel the grief and the fear, even (and especially) for the whole world and for the Earth. For from that open heart also springs compassion, love, and the way of beauty — and a deep connection with all life. May we help and encourage one another to do this!

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