“The comedy of man survives the tragedy of man.”
I sit in my lovely rocking chair watching the snow fall hard and gently outside, warmed by the the ever-changing orange glow of the fire beside me. My friend, a dear 93-year-old man, gave this chair to me as a gift. His wife of oh so many years had rocked in it as he composed piano concertos in their living room. It’s one of my most precious belongings.
I feel the warmth of the egg nog coffee in my hands. I rock. I think. The New Year always comes with a cosmic musefulness to it. I allow myself to wander and remember. This time last year, my internal world was crumbling. Too much doing and not enough being. Too long picking up other people’s pieces and imagining I was holding them together. That weight became heavier than my frame could bear and in revolt, my insides raised a white flag with as much subtlety as stampeding buffalo. Even now, I feel the emotions swell within me as I venture to recount those months – but today, with a new year ahead, I take the time to be a part of the swell, to feel what I didn’t have the capacity to feel back then. Each emotion is so vivid, strengthened by the suppression. (Never be fooled, putting emotions into dungeons only gives them more strength, a loudening static deep within making it increasingly difficult to live in the present).
In the difficult months of the early year, I can now see how much beauty lay there as well. My lover became a stronghold for me and our children as he gently dealt with all the details of our life. He not only took care of our three children, but also did all the mundane things which make life move – the laundry, the shopping (guess who didn’t set foot in a grocery store for 3 months!), the toddler mediation, the baby rocking. He let me (made me) rest. Through those long weeks, he was directing me to “do whatever was nourishing in the moment”. I would read a book until it became tiring, then stop. I would sleep for hours in the midday. I would walk or run or roller blade whenever it struck me to. In that valley, our friendship and marriage were fortified into a mountain. We had luxurious amounts of time together as a couple and as a family. We made a new family friendship that was fast and furious and deep. We planned for a new adventure ahead. These things were beautiful and good. I want to remember that they were the result of the struggle because vision is so often found in the valleys.
In the whirlwind of Spring, we moved a couple thousand miles from Dallas to a place in Northern California you’ve never heard (though treasured by its 1,647 inhabitants). We unexpectedly lived with my gracious parents for 8 weeks while Escrow was delayed and delayed and delayed. We bought our first home. We planted a Japanese Maple in the yard. We got two milk goats and a hog. Our goats ate the Japanese Maple. We had the great pleasure of being a part of the community pulling together to support a Farmer’s Market. We sorely missed those we left behind in Dallas. We soaked in the grandeur in the landscape all around us, a salve for the weary soul. We harvested and preserved pears, apples, plums, potatoes, cabbages. We weathered the morphic unrest that followed in the wake of the election. We enjoyed a white Christmas. We watched the Cubs win the World Series for the first time in 108 years. We have laughed and cried and laughed again. We have found, yet again, that God is present in the valleys and on the mountains, though more clearly seen and poignantly sought when in the valleys.
While I cannot yet say in full honesty that 2016 was a great year, it was a year where we changed and grew and loved and stayed open – to ourselves and others. It was a very vulnerable year. Maybe that’s how years should be.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen