There have been lots of causes for joy recently.
- One of my runs last week included three pauses: two for early-ripening blackberries and one to pet a puppy.
- I took my mother-in-law for dinner and a show: Steve Martin and Martin Short, who were hilarious. I am so grateful for the opportunity to see these amazingly talented icons.
- In the last track meet of the season, Alan ran a 5:06 1500, and the kids ran the 50 and 100. Jamie won a medal for coming in third, and Audrey won two medals for coming in third–and she gave her second medal to Theresa, who didn’t have one. Melt.
Also causes for sadness.
- law enforcement targeted for violence (my heart, my heart…)
- friends coping with illness, divorce, and other awfulness
- THE SHITSHOW THAT IS THIS ENTIRE ELECTION (yes, it deserves all caps)
- institutional racism: that it exists, and that–here we go with the climate change analogy again–some people “just don’t believe in it”
- Turkey, Syria, Sudan, and on…
I just finished All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and it was so beautiful and sad and true. This quote particularly:
And is it so hard to believe that souls might also travel these paths? That [spoiler avoidance!] might harry the sky in flocks, like egrets, like terns, like starlings? That great shuttles of souls might fly about, faded but audible if you listen closely enough? They flow above chimneys, ride the sidewalks, slip through your jacket and shirt and breastbone and lungs, and pass out through the other side, the air a library and the record of every life lived, every sentence spoken, every word transmitted still reverberating within it.
Every hour, she thinks, someone for whom the war was memory falls out of the world.
We rise again in the grass. In the flowers. In songs.
And then I was taking in the trash/recycling/compost bins last week, and the Olympics looked like they were on fire. Dark pink sky with clouds looking like steam over those mountains. So I walked a little ways down our beloved street with beloved neighbors, staring at that sky, and thinking: Paddy. I miss you, friend.
I can go days–weeks, really–without feeling sad, just thinking of him from time to time. But tonight it was sadness in the sky on fire, because he is not here. He is in the air.
I’ve been reading a lot about love and sadness. This statement about Revolutionary Love by Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis caught me.
Revolutionary love acknowledges that we are inextricably connected one to the other. Such that when a baby is hungry in Africa, my stomach growls. Such that when a gay person is being transgressed, my straight black behind feels outraged. Such that when children have no health care, we all feel responsible to take care of the village and raise the child. I’m not just talking about love—I’m talking about Revolutionary Love. The kind of love that can fuel our movement. And this movement is built on the backs of ordinary everyday 7th and 8th graders, and mommies and daddies, and teachers and preachers, and lawyers and activists. This movement for love is built on YOU.
St. Paul wrote that beautiful text in 1 Corinthians that everyone wants at their weddings: Love is patient, love is kind. Etc. Which is all true.
But he left some things out.
Maybe he was trying to be concise. Maybe he had a deadline. Who knows. But I think something is missing. (And now I sound like I’m treating St. Paul like one of my students: “More specific detail.”)
Love is fierce. Love does not surrender to hatred. Love stands for justice. Love lets go. Love is vulnerable. Love breathes through and into vulnerability. Love grieves over what is lost even as it knows that nothing beloved can ever be truly lost. Love is rooted in the earth and windborne through the clouds. Love is our work, our sadness, and our joy.