The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
August has been particularly wearing on so many folks this year, aging us beyond recognition after weeks of smoke-filled horizons. Those whose forests and homes have burned have nothing but cinders to return to. My concerns are mere in comparison, as the ash sent forth from such destruction is only irritant and inconvenience, rather than the residue of lost life.
Yet no one thrives in a world of fire and ash as we go gray as the sky, as if we have lived one summer too many.
I dream of what was: green and lush foliage and cool rains with the occasional welcome glimpse of a yellow, rather than red, sun.
Color the gray away to thwart the inevitable? Not this woman. I await a different beauty, even if only in my dreams…
And so you have a life that you are living only now,
now and now and now,
gone before you can speak of it,
and you must be thankful for living day by day,
moment by moment …
a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present… ~Wendell Berry from Hannah Coulter
~Lustravit lampade terras~
(He has illumined the world with a lamp)
The weather and my mood have little connection.
I have my foggy and my fine days within me;
my prosperity or misfortune has little to do with the matter.
– Blaise Pascal from “Miscellaneous Writings”
Is my gloom, after all, Shade of His hand,
outstretched caressingly? ~Francis Thompson from “The Hound of Heaven”
My days are filled with anxious and sad patients, one after another after another. They sit at the edge of their seat, struggling to hold back the flood from brimming eyes, fingers gripping the arms of the chair. Each moment, each breath, each heart beat overwhelmed by questions: will there be another breath? must there be another breath? Must life go on like this in fear of what the next moment will bring?
The only thing more frightening than the unknown is the knowledge that the next moment will be just like the last or perhaps worse. There is no recognition of a moment just passed that can never be retrieved and relived. There is only fear of the next and the next so that the now and now and now is lost forever.
Worry and sorrow and angst are contagious as the flu.
I mask up and wash my hands of it throughout the day.
I wish we could be vaccinated to protect us all from these unnamed fears.
I want to say to them and myself:
Stop this moment in time. Stop and stop and stop.
Stop expecting someone or some thing must fix this feeling.
Stop wanting to be numb to all discomfort.
Stop resenting the gift of each breath.
Instead, simply be.
I want to say:
this moment, foggy or fine, is yours alone,
this moment of weeping and sharing
and breath and pulse and light.
Shout for joy in it.
Be thankful for tears that can flow over grateful lips
and stop holding them back.
Stop me before I write,
out of my own anxiety,
yet another prescription
you don’t really need.
and be blessed–
in the now and now and now.
new year’s eve- in the echo of fog horns another voyage starts – Keiko Izawa
I grew up on a small farm located about two miles from a bay in Puget Sound. When I awoke, I knew it was a foggy morning outside even before looking out my bedroom window. The fog horns located on coastal buildings and bobbing buoys scattered throughout the inlet would echo mournful moans and groans to warn freighter ships away from the rocky or muddy shallows. The resonant lowing of the horns carried miles over the surrounding landscape due to countless water particles in the fog transmitting sound waves so effectively. The louder the foghorn moan heard on our farm, the thicker the mist in the air. Those horn voices would make me unspeakably sad for reasons I could never articulate.
Embarking on a voyage in blinding foggy conditions, just like starting a new year, portends both adventure and risk. Of course I’d prefer to see exactly where I am headed, carefully navigating with precise knowledge, eventually winding up exactly at my intended destination. The reality is that the future can be a murky mess. We cannot see what lies ahead: we navigate by our wits, by our best guess, but particularly by listening for the low-throated warnings coming from the rocky shores and shallows of those who have gone ahead of us.
I am still too easily lost in the fog of my fears – disconnected, afloat and circling aimlessly, searching for a touch point of purpose and direction. The isolation I sometimes feel may simply be my own self-absorbed state of mind, sucking me in deep until I’m soaked, dripping and shivering from the smothering gray. If only I might trust the fog horn voices, I could charge into the future undaunted, knowing there are others out there in the pea soup prepared to come alongside me as together we await the sun’s dissipation of the fog.
Now I know, over sixty years into the voyage, fog does eventually clear so the journey continues on.
Even so, I will keep listening for the resonant voices of wisdom and caution from shore, and at times raise my voice to join in.
Instead of echoing the moans and groans of my childhood mornings, may I sing an anthem of hope and promise.
A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn. The sky was hung with various shades of gray, and mists hovered about the distant mountains – a melancholy nature. Every landscape is, as it were, a state of the soul, and whoever penetrates into both is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail. ~Henri Frederic Amiel
What is melancholy
at first glance
when studied up close
in the right light.
It can’t be all sadness~
there is solace in knowing
the landscape and I share ~a state of the soul~
an inner world of tears
nevertheless forever illuminated.