Here is a favorite saying of mine: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” It’s no less apt just because Vladimir Lenin said it.
I am feeling that some weeks the news is more bleak than others, and that this week decades worth of horror stories about young black and brown men murdered by police has come flooding back with the account of the bludgeoning of Tyre Nichols. So much pain, so much suffering.
On the other end of the spectrum, recently I went over to Wesley Hill Nature Preserve near Naples. There was a thin layer of snow on the ground and half-sleeves of white glazing the tree limps. They formed a canopy of magic over the trail creating a protective cocoon. A single birdsong held the hushed forest at attention. It was less than an hour but days of peace happened.
Then there is the brutality buffeting our awareness even if we live lives far from it. The Nichols video, which I did not watch, reached through our devices and brought the dark grimness into our living rooms and kitchens. On the same day the video of Paul Pelosi being hammered was released for public viewing, which I did not watch, the perpetrator called a news reporter to apologize that he didn’t “get more of them.” If that wasn’t hard enough to wrap your mind around, we hear the relentless body counts of Ukrainian civilians entombed within apartment buildings, schools, and hospitals bombed by Russia.
On the other hand, the sun reappeared this week. To see the golden brilliance and crisp blue sky was to be able to breathe again. One morning the sun broke the horizon across the lake and held its place in the sky without disappearing behind clouds. Even though the temperature was in the low twenties and the wind a stiff thirteen mph, Rabia and I both felt warmth from the orb of light that glows from ninety-three million miles away. How do I know Rabia felt it? She stopped shaking. The prediction is for a couple more partly-cloudy days this week, so let’s hope against hope.
Well, you see, life is like that: a whiplash from beauty to ugliness, peace to violence, joy to brutality. Sometimes the horrific seems to come in waves washing everything in dark heaviness, but we have to remember that even in those moments the presence of beauty and light is with us as well. There is a magical canopy of peace beneath the trees even on the same day we receive news that someone close to us is ill, or has died. The sun is present and never goes away even though we cannot see or feel it for long periods in the winter months. (Though meager, our solar panels continue to generate kilowatt hours even during the longest stretches of gray). All the goodness we have ever known and can name, exists all the time right alongside all the terrible we have known and dread.
“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” There are days, weeks, sometimes even months, in which beauty and goodness seem to have disappeared. Yet there are weeks full to the brim of them. Always, what brings joy is in the midst of everything else that seems to surround us.
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