contemplating hope . . .
In Any Event
If we are fractured
we are fractured
bred to shine
in every direction,
through any dimension,
billions of years
since and hence.
I shall not lament
the human, not yet.
There is something
more to come, our hearts
a gold mine
not yet plumbed,
an uncharted sea.
Nothing is gone forever.
If we came from dust
and will return to dust
then we can find our way
What we are capable ofDorianne Laux
is not yet known,
and I praise us now,
i am contemplating hope, as it seems to me — and maybe to you, too — that we are living in a darkening world. a world whose headlines are chasing me away, whose headlines often sicken me. i find myself feeling the urge to draw within, to curl into a tight mollusk, a chambered nautilus of the soul. i look at flickers of the news and hear the echoes of history, a boomerang of hideousness i never dreamt would come this way again.
i am giving thought to how to live in a world where darkness gathers, how to keep an ember glowing. in my soul and in my world. can random acts of kindness be enough to keep the incandescence from extinguishing? is unending prayer enough to shift the course of history, to undermine the ugliness that seems without end or purpose? has it ever been?
i’d been thinking more humility was the desperately-needed imperative, the very thing this self-obsessed world — intoxicated by celebrity, by overblown parading in the public square — most emphatically calls for. i still think so. humility in a world of supersized ego is as countercultural as can be. and it just might expand our gaze, allow us to see past our own blinding appetites, make us more willing to quietly, determinedly turn the other cheek. to be the necessary instruments of peace, to sow pardon where there’s injury, love where there’s hatred. it’s a centuries-old prayer, the prayer of st. francis, and it is true for me each and every morning. now more than ever.
but read a little further in the prayer, and it calls for hope where there’s despair.
despair is spreading like a cancer. it undergirds the cynicism everywhere. it’s the magnetic pull toward apathy. it’s surrender punctuated with slamming of the door. it snuffs out every shard of light.
so now i’m thinking hard about hope, the counterforce of gloom, despondency, profound sorrow (each and every one, another name for despair). where does hope begin? how might we stir it? feel its updraft catch beneath our wings?
i don’t have answers.
in time, though, i may stumble on inklings.
but there are poets, now and ever. poets like dorianne laux, whose words came to me this week and made me feel that fetal kick that might be where hope begins. when someone wiser and deeper draws the faint outlines of the life ropes we just might need.
dorianne laux, who worked as a waitress, a sanitorium cook, a gas-station manager, and a maid before getting a BA in english at 36 from mills college in oakland (and has gone on to be a pulitzer finalist, and a guggenheim fellow), and who is absolutely one of my most beloved poets, begins with “fractured” in the poem above.
fractured is how i sometimes feel. fractured has sharper edges than just plain broken. fractured is what bones do when they split and crack. sometimes hairline, sometimes compound. fractured makes a snapping sound. fractured is low-down broken. sometimes shattered.
but dorianne doesn’t leave us at fractured. she turns our gaze swiftly toward the stars, which are fractured too, but into pretty little points. and it’s the points of stars where the shining, twinkling comes. it’s where the light pings or oozes i don’t know which; i’m not a physicist of the heavens. i’m only someone who watches and wonders. maybe it’s where the light –– twinkling, shining –– bounces off the brokenness. it’s the brokenness that makes for the dizzying luminescence. stars in their brokenness are bred to shine in every direction. maybe that’s something to think about.
and then dorianne goes on to tell us that it’s not time yet to lament. “there is something more to come,” she promises.
our hearts still are goldmines to be plumbed. our little bitty self-contained vessels of all that’s good, all that’s holy; no one’s got a right to reach in and steal those hearts, to tap those hearts of all that’s bottled up inside. all the sweet succulence of all the kindness we’ve known in our whole lives. all the times we’ve been forgiven. all the times someone gentle looked our way and whispered words that might have made us feel beautiful, and seen. don’t abandon those sacred hearts, turn over the keys to whatever evil awfulness might flatten you. guard those good and plenty hearts as if your life depended on it, as if the good world depended on it. because it does, it does.
and so, dorianne was just the lifeline i needed as i began to consider hope, as i set out to figure out how to live wisely and luminously in a world where dark skies are growing denser in the distance.
my considerations of hope are only just beginning.
What we are capable of
is not yet known,
and I praise us now,
where do you find hope? does it come in faint traces, or in bold strokes that sometimes bowl you over? do you sometimes feel the hairline fractures in your heart or your soul?
i let it rip this week. once upon a time, this would be the very sort of meander my mother-in-law would have met with deafening silence. too dark, she’d diagnose it. and leave me to second-guess the whole day long. should i have held back? but to ignore the chasms that rend us apart, push us away from one another, to ignore the fallout that inevitably shrouds the tender among us is to let the rot seep in till it’s too, too late. i am determined in my searching for hope. and thank you, dorianne, for pointing me in hopeful direction….
something screwy happened when i was typing and all of the sudden everything shrank. i tried and tried to fix it, but it might still be screwy. i’ll keep trying to fix it. till then, put on your magnifying lenses……