Thursday, December 23, 2010
Where is the dwelling place of light?
And where is the house of darkness?
Go about; walk the limits of the land.
Do you know a path between them?
Do you know a path between joy and sorrow? Is it shrouded or well lit? Pine-scented? There’s a weight hanging over me. I’m remembering my mother’s death many years ago; I’m anticipating my father’s. I’m doing my best to sit beside my husband in his grief, while feeling my own, over the loss of his father.
Might that weight be an anchor too? I’ve never veered from sorrow; it’s often been the best of friends. This time of year, though, and this year, especially, on certain days, it’s bringing me to my knees. This is the familiar grief of Christmas on steroids. The past carries its weight. The present adds its own.
There are some things life hands us with that we don’t “get over,” ever. Hopefully we learn to incorporate those odd gifts and get stronger. And my life, in the scheme of lives, is lined with silver, is easy. Long time ago, a drinking mother was tough for this child. It made me need to straddle too many realities simultaneously and without the skills to do so. Being with Michael over these years has worn away much of that old loss, and I’ve even come to look forward to Christmas. But this year’s new grief is not only making me sad in the present tense, it’s bringing the past back home.
I turn to the forest. I return to the forest. It has become a place of salvation. Does the forest diminish itself? Does it wish for sun on stormy days? It questions neither its greenness nor its fallen limbs. I like the isness of the woods. I like that, without any apparent effort, each day when I show up at its boundary, the woods welcome me in whether my lipstick’s fresh or I’m emotionally disheveled, whether my shirt’s come untucked or not. Never once have the trees said, “Why are you sad?” or “You’ve not been here for days!”
There’s a line from The Waking, a poem by Theodore Roethke, that says, “What falls away is always, And is now.” At certain points in life, we built and gather and prepare; it’s all a reaching outward. And at other times, the faling away is what we feel—the always falling, and now. This is that. The trees let go of their leaves effortlessly. I stand in the forest and watch, over and over again. The leaves sway on their way down; they find currents of air that let them ride, in their near weightlessness, down easy to the ground.
I tell myself, “Tricey, look out there; the light is returning.” But no truth, no matter how verifiable, lifts me from sorrow. And so what? Why shouldn’t I give up straddling worlds, settle down and cry my eyes out?
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.
Posted by Patrice Vecchione at 6:45 AM