In Summer, in a burst of summertime
Following falls and falls of rain,
When the air was sweet-and-sour of the flown fineflower of
Those goldnails and their gaylinks that hang along a lime;
~Gerard Manley Hopkins from “Cheery Beggar”
Sweet and sour extends far beyond a Chinese menu; it is the daily air I breathe. Dichotomy is so much of my life and times, more distinct than the bittersweet of simple pleasures laced with twinges and tears.
I am but a cheery beggar in this world, desiring to hang tight to the overwhelming sweetness of each glorious moment — the startling late summer sunrise, the renewed green coming through the dead of spent fields, the warm hug of a compassionate word, a house filled with love and laughter. But as beggars aren’t choosers, I can’t only have sweet alone; I must endure the sour that comes as part of the package — the deepening dark of a sleepless night, the muddy muck of endless rain, the sting of a biting critique, the loneliness of a home emptying and much too quiet.
So I slog through sour to revel some day, even more so, in sweet. Months of manure-permeated air is overcome one miraculous morning by the unexpected and undeserved fragrance of apple blossoms, so sweet, so pure, so full of promise of the wholesome fruit to come. The manure makes the sweet sweeter months later, long after the stench is gone.
And I breathe in deeply now, content and grateful for this moment of sweet grace and bliss, wanting to hold it in the depths of my lungs forever to overwhelm the memory of sour.
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