“Love’s austere and lonely offices”


[Lilacs under snow; February, 2015]

Today is Ash Wednesday. The Lenten season, forty lengthening days, begins. Today is a day to contemplate this precious “Pale Blue Dot” and where Mother Earth has been and where she is headed on her yearly journey around the Sun. Today is a day to consider Light.

Today I contemplate my fellow travelers on our Pale Blue Dot journey, we who live on this particular patch of the Northern Hemisphere, we of, basically, the same longitude and latitude—and the same distance and at the same tilt from the Sun. My fellow travelers and I await those lengthening days with keen anticipation.

As I contemplate my (increasingly exhausted and often cranky) Red Sox Nation compatriots, I remind myself: we don’t live in a war zone. We don’t live in Syria where 3.7 million of us (!), are now homeless. We don’t live in lawless and betrayed-by-its-own government northern Nigeria; we are not daily terrorized by Boko Haram.

No.  I can say with certainty that my neighbors and I have heat and electricity and running water. Our supermarket receives daily deliveries—although trucks squeezing in and out of its snowbound parking lot tie up traffic for blocks.

And yet, despite how relatively benign this regional hardship is, small, communal, civic/civil acts touch me as though we truly were collectively under attack. Like when people shovel a path to a fire hydrant. Or when an exhausted, cranky stranger nevertheless steps to one side to let me pass as we both negotiate a narrow, snowbanked path. (And when I next encounter a stranger approaching another narrow path it’s my turn to step aside.)

Those Winter Sundays By Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?




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1 Comment

  1. My so, so very dearest and precious white sisterfriend, I love this! I, too, crave for long days of daylight, Patricia! I am still mad that your Boston Red Sox beat my Cleveland Indians in the ALCS-(SMILE!!!!!!)-just kidding, sister! Back in 2007. I’ll keep trying to get my longer reply to go through and I’ll never ever give up…

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