One small hominid under an eclipsing moon and our perpetual reason for hope
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops – at all
This morning, in the wee hours, I stood under the moon as it was slowly eclipsed, until the cold air drove me inside. At that moment, I was only one of the eons long chain of humans who have also stood staring heavenward, marveling, and none of my being heir to millenia of accumulated knowledge made the slightest difference. I was still in awe. Still mystified and honored that my flickering flame had been allowed passage into this world of wonders.
Sometimes I am staggered by how hard life is, even though it’s the most ordinary thing in the world. Life is hard. Life has always been hard.
There will be grief. Terror for those we love. We will lose them – or they will lose us. We have babies and sometimes it’s easy and sometimes they’re born in such terrible trouble and there will be nothing – absolutely nothing we can individually do to protect them.
We will try and we will fail and we will falter. We’ll absolutely blow it. We’ll let down everyone we ever loved. We’ll do things we cannot take back, say things we can’t unsay. And sometimes, the ones we love will walk away and never return again.
Accidents will happen. Disasters. Horrible things we didn’t do a damned thing to deserve, like cancer. Like AIDS.
Some of us with the purest of hearts will be born so ugly that nobody will see our radiant inner beings. Some of us born beautiful will lose that beauty in terrible ways. All of us who do not die first will get old, and that’s not a process for the faint of heart.
If you look at just how daunting this world, this life, is – why bother? Why, when it’s so hard, do we keep trying? Why do we stay?
Because, at least most of the time, none of the difficulties are truly permanent except for terminal illness and ultimate death. Yes, we will go through all of that and much, much more. But that’s not the whole of it.
We will, if we’re lucky, have tiny children hold our hand with the perfect trust that we love them. We will watch those tiny children grow up into wonderful adults who may even have tiny children of their own for us to love. We will exchange radiant smiles with strangers and they will, perhaps, become our friends. We will walk through our lives with those friends and, at least usually, our disasters will not befall us at the same time so that we can take turns bolstering each other up.
We will survive our failures. We will survive our losses. We will do our best to protect our children and, at least, we will know we tried. We will learn that our physical shell is the least of who we are and we will find people who can see us and love us.
We will have spring mornings and lazy summer afternoons with bees humming their gathering-nectar songs and babies sleeping on shoulders and old dogs huffing in their dreams. We will have a lover’s embrace or friends leaning shoulders with friends. We will have music and we will have dance, however we are able to move. We will have roses and dandelions and rosy pink radishes that burn our tongues even after we dip them in ranch dressing to cool them off.
We will have time – however much our share turns out to be – and if we pay attention, if we savor every minute, if we strive to learn everything we can, to gain every wisdom that life proffers at more turns than we generally notice – it will be enough. Perhaps not for the people who love us, but for us, most likely, yes – if we make the most of what we have.
So even though my original little family of four is down to just me and now my blessing of a stepmother, even as I watch others suffer losses and devastations, I also watch them grow – a new child or grandchild, a new lover or friend, a new delight. Even as life takes with one hand, it gives with the other.
All we have to do is reach out our own hand to take what is offered. All we can do is not let go of hope, because hope is the bridge between the sadness and difficulty of before to the shining radiance of possibility ahead.
And the moon still shines, and the fog still swirls about on an early spring night and the frogs, too cold to sing, slumber on…