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September 02, 2005


For the last week my world has had a homebound orbit, circling almost entirely around our newborn son.  I’ve felt such joy and gratitude, such gladness to be right where I am, right who I am, nestled deep into this life that I’m living.  Whispers of the greater world have trickled in, but not until yesterday did I actually take time to read more deeply of the tragedy gripping our nation’s south.

And now I’m floored.  Or rather filled with a profound kind of dissonance.  While I’ve been basking in what feels like the benevolence of our world, thousands have been doing the exact opposite.  The exact opposite.  They’re living in hell.  Right now.  Right freaking now.  How can this be?

One of the hugest challenges of my 20s has been learning to come to terms with suffering, to grow so absolutely exhausted from kicking and screaming in the face of it, from personally flailing around in cesspools of it, and all the questions it raises for me and in me, that I’ve finally fallen limp with my fists newly open.  “I accept you,” I’ve finally learned to say.  “I accept that you’re in our world, that sometimes nights are endless, that pits are bottomless, that no amount of wishing or praying will make you go away.”

But now I’m confronted with an entirely new challenge.  An entirely different beast.  It’s joy.  Joy and peace.  How in the world, given suffering’s Reality, does a person come to terms with such things?  At many points in the last decade I’ve wanted to slap optimistic people.  Or shake them into actually seeing the world for what it is.  Only eyes closed or averted, I’ve thought, could go on registering “good place” when looking at our world.

But that’s not how I’m seeing things at all anymore.  I’ll never ever say this world is only good.  I’ll never look at things like New Orleans and think they’re just a blip on an otherwise glassy sea.  I weep as I learn about what’s happening there.  I weep and mourn and donate and pray.  But I can say, in addition to that, that I am genuinely happy.  And I do think kindness and gentleness exist in our world.  And that sometimes they even wrap us up and fill us up and make us glow in a kind of heaven.

And this is what’s confusing me today, what’s being impossible to get my mind around as I look into my baby’s eyes, guzzling warmly at my breast, and then the eyes of hungry babies half a country away.  God, what a world.

In the Darkness, in the Light, it just keeps on.

01:19 PM in Current Affairs, Motherhood, Philosophy, Psychology | Permalink


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Duality, paradox, mystery--the dark and the light. All part of the human condition. Keep the joy in your heart 'cause your little guy is taking it all in through you.

Posted by: Fran | Sep 2, 2005 1:38:36 PM

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