18 — 22 :: Go Dark

Amidst a great deal of talk about our country this week: the transition in leadership; the grace of President Obama as he left office; the inaugural address; what it means to be trustworthy; the importance of our words; the value of integrity and respect . . . While all the while wondering what we can do, in our relatively quiet part of the world, to reach out to our neighbors . . . there was a whole lot of quiet work (and play) happening in our home.

January feels very dark. Not just this year, but especially this year, I feel a heaviness that I cannot shake. I do not know if I should try harder to shake it or try to sit with it. But when I sit here, trying to enter in, fully, to the weight of this darkness, I find myself simultaneously celebrating life — life and the joy that is so very present in each day shared with our beautiful children. Their curiosity. Their wonder. Their questions. Their pureness of heart. This is light.

I think of this poem by Wendell Berry (forgive me if I have quoted this recently. It has really been on my mind.)

To Know the Dark

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, Counterpoint, 1998: p. 68.

Did Wendell Berry march in the Woman’s March yesterday (or would he have in his younger days)?
Does he outwardly protest? Or inwardly? Or both?
Does he speak out in body? And on paper?
In the light? Or in the dark?

15 :: Misty Morning Gift

It was breathtakingly beautiful outside this morning: the mist, the ice, the light.

Amabel, Wallace, and I went outside as soon as we woke up — before breakfast. The world was clothed in an ephemeral mist and everything was covered in ice crystals. As soon as the sun hits the trees, I thought, the ice will melt.

We came inside with a twisted strand of bittersweet decorated in icy patterns — to show Ellen before it all melted away.

But the ice did not melt. After breakfast the sun was shining on everything, making the landscape even more vibrant. And so we went outside again.

Winter is long and dark and cold in the north. But today we were given one of those mornings that truly feels like a gift — a gift of beauty that can come only in the midst of a season of ice.

11 :: Joy

I remember a friend asking me, when Wallace was a tiny newborn, “Didn’t you feel like you already knew his personality before he was born?”

And I was taken aback because not only did I not know his personality when I was pregnant, I still had very little sense of “who he was” at eight weeks old. He wanted to be held almost all the time then, and I couldn’t see or imagine much past our mama-baby bubble. I did not have deep thoughts to share about my baby’s personality, only the smiles and nods of postpartum exhaustion and euphoria.

But, now — a year later — yes. I know this little man well. And one thing I can say for sure is that he embodies so much joy. He loves to laugh. He loves to watch us laugh. He loves to join in the conversation, singing and chattering. He loves to dance and play, run around and wrestle. He is a vibrant little being — so engaged with everyone around him, curious in new places, and eager to make new friends.

He has brought so much love into our family. So much so that Ellen asked tonight, “Do you think everyone gets happier with each new baby they have?”