Friday, April 20, 2012

Joy and Sorrow Giving Birth?

Joy and sorrow, they are never far apart, but sorrow keeps pushing joy further and further away, not out of sight, but just out of reach (like my son—not out of sight of my mind’s eye, but out of my reach).

It was the rain pecking on the metal roof that called me out to the patio. The noise was like a thousand chickens pecking hard ground that will not surrender sustenance. I was sitting on my glider, the one we finally got fixed after nearly four years of it sitting useless on the patio. I was gliding back and forth. It was twilight, my least favorite time of day, that time that is neither daylight nor dark. It is the neither-ness of it all that gets next to me. Be daylight or be dark but don’t be neither that’s how I feel about it all.

I’ll tell you a little bit about joy. Joy is gliding in the glider watching the drips hang tenaciously from the cross bar on the old metal swing set. Joy is finally getting the chains back on the glider and the nuts and bolts tightened. Joy is sitting there feeling the temperature drop. Joy is feeling that cool breeze brush your face and imagining that it is the hand of God and not long after that imagining that it is my son breezing by to check on me and to reassure me.

But is it sorrow that makes me sit slumped down on the glider breathing deep as though I am about to give birth to something? Maybe I am about to give birth, to something. Sometimes it feels that way. It’s not a totally unpleasant feeling.

And the rain keeps falling and the tears pile up on the swing set cross bar.

When I noticed the mosquitoes biting my elbows and my ankles that is when I came in and tried to right what I felt out there. When I closed my eyes time felt like a dust storm in my head. Part of me was not there with myself. Part of me was whirling around in that dust storm. Was it subliminal that I wrote that I came in and tried to “right” what I felt out there? Maybe not.

At any rate, as I was experiencing my time on the patio I kept thinking I will not be able to come in and sensibly explain these feelings and so I am right, it is indeed difficult to write what it was I felt out there.

And I remembered this that Annie Dillard wrote. It cracked me up when I read it. I’ll tell you, I still think I very much need to sit still for a little while, and leave the dusting and sweeping and wiping for another day. And yet, the time will come again for movement for I think I am not yet ready for burial. There are still things in me that are waiting to be birthed.

“Earth shifts over things. If you stay still, earth buries you, ready or not…

Quick: Why aren’t you dusting? On every continent, we sweep floors and wipe tabletops not only to shine the place, but to forestall burial.”

This is not new work, I did it in my journal sometime in the beginning of February, but it seems related to what I have written. Maybe it was a premonition of some sort...


  1. There is something in the air... I'm feeling it, too.

    Hold fast.
    <3 D

  2. I'm a holdin' on! We've got to figure out what is we are feelin' in the air! (That's was another thing I was going to mention. She had a relatively long list of gross stuff we often breathe in when we breathe. It almost made me want to quit breathing. :)

  3. I love my Annie Dillard collection and am always checking, hoping she has published one more. Don't know what was stirring in you on the glider, Annie, but it sounds to me like something good rather than bad. There is a place where God's Spirit rises from within to meet us, to overshadow us and nurture us in all that He is. The reality can be overwhelming and give us a bit of "fear", a thought that to go any farther is to lose ourself somehow in the depths of it all. If you can get past that and just relax in Him, there is no greater assurance of His love....

  4. Those are very perceptive and clear thoughts, Jim, helpful, too. Thank you.

    As for Annie Dillard, I am hoping to return to Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek now that I've read a couple of her other books. I really have enjoyed "For the Time Being." I love the way she has it set up. I want to get a copy of Holy the Firm, neither of our libraries (the university where I work nor the public library) has a copy of it. I've read "The Writing Life" and "Teach a Stone to Talk."

  5. I agree with Jim. It sounds like you had a very unique experience. One of a bit of grace perhaps, yet somehow not really of this world. A little surreal maybe. It's perception and heightened awareness of everything around us.
    that's what I wanted to say. I think........

  6. Looking back on the experience, I think so too, Lori.


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