Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
….It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble.
We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day. ~E.B. White in a letter
We can’t claw our way out of
the mess we’ve made of things;
it takes Someone
to dig us out of the hole,
wash us off,
clean us up,
and breathe fresh breath into our nostrils.
We can only hope
hope will be contagious.
We can only hope
and grab hold as His hand reaches down
to lift us up, carry us out of the dirt,
and hold us tight.
This painting by French realist Julien Dupre` resonated with me this past week. I know well the feeling of pulling against a momentum determined to break free of the strength I can muster to keep it under control. This is what my life often feels like, both on the farm and at work. It seems I am barely hanging on, at times losing my grip, my feet braced but slipping beneath me.
The full-uddered cow in the painting is compelled to join her herd in a pastoral scene just across the creek, but the milk maid must resist the cow’s escape. For the cow’s benefit and comfort, she must be milked. The cow has another agenda. She has snapped her rope tie, almost pulled up the stake, and in a show of strength and determination, the maid braces to pull a much larger animal around to retie her and restore things to how they were.
The action suggests the maid may succeed, but the cow’s attention is directed far afield. She doesn’t even feel the tug on her halter. We’re not fully convinced the cow won’t suddenly pull loose and break away from the maid’s grip, leaping the stream, tail raised straight in the air like a flag of freedom.
Right now, as spring advances rapidly with grass growing thick in the pastures, our horses can smell that richness in the air. Sometimes this tug of war takes place when my plan is different than the horse’s. The fields are too wet for them to be out full time yet, so they must wait for the appropriate time to be released to freedom. The grass calls to them like a siren song as I feed them their portion of last summer’s uninviting hay. They can pull my shoulders almost out of joint when they are determined enough, they break through fences in their pursuit of green, they push through stall doors and lift gates off hinges. Right now I’m barely an adequate counterbalance to the pursuit of their desires and I struggle to remind them I’m on the other end of their lead rope.
Each day I try too hard to restore order in my life, on the farm, in the house, in my clinic, with my patients and coworkers, with my family. I want to pull that cow back around, get her tied up and relieved of her burden of milk so that it can nurture and replenish others. Sometimes I hang on, only to be pulled along on the ground, roughed up in the process. Sometimes I just let go and have to try to catch that cow all over again.
Once in awhile I successfully get the cow turned around and actually milked without a spill.
I’ve held on. I’ve got a grip.
And maybe, just maybe, I will make cheese….
What would the world be, once bereft Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left, O let them be left, wildness and wet; Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet. ~Gerard Manley Hopkins from “Inversnaid”
In our anguish at the chaos that appears to rule the world,
let us remember,
when we look closely,
through the fog,
even the weeds,
we unruly unholy weeds,
in this wilderness.
There is order here
even if we can’t feel it.
Let us be left.
We are meant to be.