I’ve been dreaming of the beaches of my youth and young adulthood. Each night I travel to a familiar shore and sit beside myself as I watch the tides and grieve for the losses of that time. The death of my father as a twelve years old; the end of my first marriage and the subsequent loss of twins during my first trimester. The death of my mother. The end of my wild and lusty youth.
I sit next to myself and comfort myself, even as I know in the dream that I will grow up and out from under this shadow, find joy, true love. I sit on each beach and breathe in the sorrowing girl, the young adult. I’ve come to collect her, all these grieving parts of myself. I’m less whole without them.
In my waking state, I’m trying to stay open to the grief that is moving like a cold wind, blowing into every corner of my awareness, across roads and fields, lifting my hat and scarf, exposing my vulnerability and sense of loss. The daily loss of species, clean air and water, the ability of our planet to survive rising temperatures and melting ice. The ripping away of the constitutional right to reproductive freedom that will ooze next like an oil spill to the underserved, the queer, the unhoused, the undocumented, people of color, native people, all the most vulnerable among us.
The storm is gathering, the storm is always gathering, and I am afraid of the encroaching darkness. May I say that? That I woke up this morning afraid? The death eaters are on the march gobbling up our souls if we let them.
Underneath whatever we are doing with our hours, our days and months, these losses swirl through the collective unconscious, finding the cracks and fissures in our foundation, finding the places where we give up and turn away in despair.
We yearn to make a difference, to express the love and concern, as well as the simmering outrage in our hearts, but wonder if there’s a right and a wrong way to take action or be of service. Does what I’m doing count? Is it big enough, important enough?
I am opening to grief in order to make myself more resilient, better equipped to fight off hopelessness, for unless I can thaw the numb one inside who has curled up in sorrow and fear, I will not know how to use my voice in the service of love. I welcome my tears each morning when I sit to meditate. Is this okay? Is this what meditation is supposed to be? How could it not be, this cracking open of the heart to the suffering of the world, to our own fears and vulnerability. I am learning to swim a stronger stroke as I navigate the fast moving river we are in together.
Change is coming, and we can shape it if we can imagine it. Light a candle and let it illuminate your heart. What you are being called upon to offer? There’s no one right way to push back against hopelessness. Paint. Write. March. Volunteer. Feed the birds. Visit a neighbor. Put the phone numbers of your Senators and Representatives on speed dial and give voice to your outrage. Lend a hand, cook a meal, phone a friend. Write thank you notes and mail them. Water your plants, tip the barista. Donate what you don’t need to the homeless shelter. Listen deeply to each other without judgment. Keep your heart open so that it might break a little more every day, softening you to compassion for yourself and the whole fractured and breaking world.
There are a hundred songs to sing in the dark. Songs that sing of the joy that is the kernel inside grief. Songs of gratitude for what still remains. Songs of the kindness that illuminates this one precious perilous moment. Songs that weep and praise, that moan and soar. Songs that shout hallelujah and thank you and despite it all, because of it all, sing a love song that burns like ice, like fire.
4 thoughts on “songs for dark times”
So beautifully and poetically written, the loss of rights disappearing overnight (outrageous and numbing) but never the loss of hope.
thank you for reading, Liz. Hope a candle that flickers but never goes out. Love, Nancy
Thanks for sharing this amazing piece, Nancy. And yes… to all of the above!
thanks as always for reading, Liz. It means a lot. love, N