Homesick

“All grief is homesickness.”

The words landed in my heart with a painful thud.

I was driving up the twisted curves of our mountain road, only halfway listening to the podcast, when Lanier Ivester, said this. I don’t remember much else, but that phrase grabbed my attention.

I think we’re all feeling off-center these days. I wake up many mornings, irritable and feeling like I’m on the wrong foot all day. Even as I try to work my way back to feeling both my feet on the ground, I am thwarted by the continual assault of all the things going wrong in the world. The longing in my soul for things to be set right is sometimes unbearable.

I’ve had to limit my news consumption drastically – as an empath, the conflicts of so many people being at odds with each other is more than I can handle. I am easily bruised by a stranger’s comments on the Internet, and the thought that even people I love would say these awful things, hidden behind a keyboard, haunts me. Even conversations with friends have eroded my sense of safety as I mull over a too-hasty response or wonder if I’ve offended someone. Old, silly fears easily creep in when everything feels wrong and our relationships are suspended in the iCloud.

It’s easy to lose our sense of orientation when our lives have been stripped of the trappings that we thought made them meaningful. Where do we find our anchor in a time like this?

In my own searching for something to hold on to, I’ve returned to this passage from “The Specialization of Poetry”, by Wendell Berry many times over:

Contemporaneity, in the sense of “being up with the times,” is of no value. A competent wakefulness to experience – as well as instruction and example – is another matter. But what we call the modern world is not necessarily, and not often, the real world, and there is no virtue in being up to date in it. It is a false world, based upon economies and values and desires that are fantastical- a world in which millions of people have lost any idea of the resources, the disciplines, the restraints, and the labor necessary to support human life, and who have thus become dangerous to their own lives and to the possibility of life.

Is it not the lack of the “real world” that we are missing so much right now? I’ve found myself needing to be grounded by things that cannot be changed as quickly as statistics and news headlines. “Being up with the times” only serves to exhaust me and make me hopeless. Instead, I find Berry’s call to “competetent wakefulness”, though certainly not written about this scenario we find ourselves in, to be more useful. I cannot bury myself in oblivion, but find more and more that a stubborn refusal to lose touch with the realities of my daily life is more useful to those around me. The gifts of human interaction and touch can not be replaced, and our longing for the things that are real is not satisfied by launching further into the “modern world” of technology but by returning to the things that make us human: art, music, beauty, laughter and nature. These are the ways we’re finding a small piece of home in the chaos.

This small piece of home may last for a moment as we experience reprieve from our pain, heartache or loss, but can it really save us? These good gifts provide solace and do bring us back to certain truths. After all, good art requires attention to concrete detail to resonate, and is timeless in its suggestion of our common humanity; by Berry’s definition, nature is nothing if not the “real world”. But still we long for more. Can laughter and music, or even a fierce devotion to justice, prove panacea to the insatiable hunger for wholeness we push down all day, till it awakens us in the wee hours with its grief? In the ordinary busy-ness we’ve now been stripped of, it was easier to keep this longing quiet. We could dull its pain with the anaesthetic of our own self-importance, but now, in the helpless waiting, we are confronted with a terrible truth.

These beautiful things, all of them, will never be enough to save us, because as C.S. Lewis says in “Weight of Glory” there is an “inconsolable secret” about them, we can hardly bear to acknowledge. They refuse to satisfy us, because they are still, in all their glory, merely reflections of the home we most long for – Heaven. “They are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” Can we see them as the messengers of Hope they are, but not mistake them for the object of our true affection? Can we use them to orient ourselves in the direction we are traveling, but not despair when we find we are not home yet? If we are to keep hope alive in the midst of suffering, we must remember that our grief is only homesickness for a land where, “He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more”(Rev 21:4) Let it be so.

simple pleasure

chubby hands
digging through gravel for
just
the
right
rock.

fat fingers fling fearlessly
– pure joy!

plop.
sploosh!

button nose wrinkles with delight
as he glances my way.
“look at me, mom!”

we watch stones
sink
beneath rippling water,
and the late afternoon sun bounces
off the creek.

Saturday

surely, one more piece of chocolate,
one more sweep with the vacuum cleaner,
another twenty squats in the living room,
will force the creeping tide of pain in my
chest to recede.

anxiety tells me I’m sick.
experience tells me I’m sad.

grief

it’s cruel when you’re grieving already.

clamors of people’s worlds falling apart and all I can selfishly think is:

well, aren’t you lucky you’ve gotten this far?

my wiser self knows no one arrives unscathed.
we all go through the fire –
you don’t get out of life alive, after all.

but today I am not hopeful or thoughtful –
I am tired and angry.

I judge my thoughts
and familiar companions flood in.

anger, anxiety, guilt and guilt and guilt.

“count your blessings!”
“you’re fine!”
“other people have real problems”

I’m pre-programmed to disappear in crisis –
squashing my problems to make room for
the heroic rescuer I imagine myself to be.

the last years have changed me though;

I have no energy to be heroic and so
I must be honest.

honesty looks like
exhaustion and prayers,
afternoon naps that feel ridiculous and indulgent,
because sleep is surrender to my impotence,
dishes and dishes
and trying not to respond shortly when I’m asked “how do you spell…”
again,
letting the ache in my chest surface, and letting the tears flow,
waking up and knowing, that I have accepted reality before –
this is no different.

and, because this is no different
there will be something on the other side.

but, we cannot start with Sunday.

Holy Week is coming.

were they ready?

is anyone ever ready for suffering that comes
and shatters
and purifies
and somehow
leads to resurrection?

even Jesus pleaded
“if it be your will…”,
but there was no other way.

Saturday seems to stretch an eternity.

on the third lap

We now live in a very rural location, which presents a few minor inconveniences. One of these, is that if you are, for example, staying at your home for prolonged periods of time and also trying to stay off social media so you don’t lose your mind (or maybe so you don’t make your husband lose his?) then you might need reading material. And, if your internet happens to be um, how could we put this kindly? substandard? then you might find yourself re-reading everything on your husband’s Kindle because you have to wait until between the hours of 2-8 AM to download new books.

You probably don’t have this problem, but since I do, I found myself re-reading “Once A Runner” by John L. Parker a few days ago. Unless you’re a distance runner (or you know, married into a family of them) I’m going to guess you have not read this book. It may be directed towards a bit of a niche audience, but it’s pretty good. If you’re running out of books give it a shot!

Towards the end of the book there’s this iconic description of the mile race (for those of you unfamiliar with track and field events that’s 4 laps around the track). What struck me as I read it recently was the description of the third lap:

“Here the real melancholy began, when the runner might ask himself just what in the hell he was doing to himself. It was a time for the most intense concentration, the iciest resolve. It was here the leader might balk at the pain and allow the pace to lag, here that positions shifted; those whose conditioning was not competitive would settle to the back of the pack to hang on, the kickers would move up like vultures to their vantage points at the shoulders of the front runners. It was a long, cruel lap with no distinguishing features save the fact that it had to be run. Every miler knows, in the way a sailor knows the middle of the ocean, that it is not the first lap but the third that is farthest from the finish line. Races are won or lost here, records broken or forfeited to history, careers made or ended. The third lap was a microcosm, not of life, but of the Bad Times, the times to be gotten through, the no-toys-at-Christmas, sittin’-at-the-bus-station-at-midnight blues, times to look back on and try to laugh about or just forget. The third lap was to be endured and endured and endured.”

I don’t know exactly what we’re all in right now, but it sure feels like the third lap. If you are anything like me, it’s not like you were starting out fresh when this began. You were probably already weary from other things going on in life, already struggling to maintain the pace, so to speak. And yet, here we are, starting the third lap, no adrenaline to speak of, the cheering crowds at the finish line still a distant dream.

It sucks, this third lap. Unless our eyes are focused with steely resolve on our goal, we’re going to “balk at the pain” and unless we have been conditioning ourselves to face this challenge, we’re going to fall short and find ourselves lagging far behind of our goal.

As I’ve mulled over this passage and my own feelings of fatigue and discouragement I was reminded of this passage:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons…For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Hebrews 12: 1-5, 7-8, 11-13

I am encouraged to keep my eyes on the hope of what lays before us, no matter what happens in the future. Yes, I am exhausted. My hands are droopy, my knees are weak. Yours probably are too. But this, the third lap, is where we have the greatest opportunity to fight for what is true and good, the opportunity to fix our eyes on Jesus because there is nothing else to look at, and keep running.

Trust me, I’m getting weighed down quite regularly, but I’m encouraged to keep pushing through. There will be a finish line!

on responsibility

I think I’ve been responsible my whole life. Early in life, I was saddled with the moniker “itty-bitty grownup”, which carried equal amounts of praise and suffocation. What if I didn’t want to be grown up yet? What if I just wanted to be blissfully unaware of what was going on and enjoy myself? I often DID want that, but circumstances and my own personality bent made that impossible. I was the one in charge of picking up the pieces, holding things together and making sure that everyone else got rescued at appropriate intervals.

I’ve come a long way to let go of this over functioning sense of responsibility, but there’s nothing like a national crisis and endless news reports of all the people that are in trouble to make me feel the overwhelming sense of guilt and responsibility all over again. I’m not “allowed” to be okay if others are not. It’s my old rule. To prove that I love people and care about them, I have to make myself miserable and anxious, right? I have to care so much that I lose myself in these stories, morph into feeling others feelings and blur the boundaries of their situation and mine. Right? That’s the old way that I know so well. Enmeshed and interwoven, where I can’t see the end of myself and the beginning of someone else.

To set a boundary around my knowledge of other’s suffering seems to me like I’m being cruel and uncaring. How do I honor both the command to “bear one another’s burdens” and the knowledge that “each will have to bear his own load” (Galations 6)? I’m not really sure what this looks like in the current pandemic. I’m overwhelmed on a daily basis by stories of horrible things, death, impending financial catastrophe, current financial catastrophe facing so many, and the looming threat of my biggest fears materializing. There’s a part of me that feels like it’s “irresponsible” to experience joy in a time when so many suffer. But, am I helping anyone by suffering prematurely? Will I be able to do the only things I’m capable of doing, if I’m worn down by constant premature anxiety? There has to be a difference between careful concern and care for our neighbors, globally and locally, and the circular anxiety that is the devil’s treadmill.

I’m doing all the things that I can responsibly do: staying home, washing hands obsessively, not panic buying… and the rest is kind of just normal life here. My daily life, homeschooling three little boys in a remote mountain location an hour away from town, has not changed much since it began in the last month. We aren’t going to the library or going to church, but otherwise life is pretty normal. That feels like a weird luxury when I know that so many lives are totally upended. I want to fix it all – solve all the problems, save everyone, get angry at all the people doing it “wrong”. But, I’m basically powerless to control anything except my own actions.

I took a vacation from the internet yesterday: went for a run, we did family “church”, I folded piles of laundry and listened to a podcast, I took a 2 hour nap and made dinner and read some books. My default is to feel guilty that I’m able to do these things, but my guilt is not helping anyone else who’s suffering. I’m not able to save them their suffering, by causing myself to suffer too. So, what to do? How do you set limits on how much panic you’re willing to consume, without turning a blind eye to the people that are suffering?

Maybe it has to be a little bit like how things used to be. Before the last several decades, we didn’t have the lightning quick dispersion of information we have now. Sure, you heard the news and things got around, but it wasn’t quite as much like drinking out of a firehose as our current media storm. I think, though I don’t know this for a fact, that attention had to be focused more on local vs. global issues. And so maybe that is part of the answer for me now. As much as I want to help everyone, everywhere, and solve all the problems I mostly just feel like anything I do to this end, ends up adding to the endless barrage of noise.

What am I actually responsible for? Not that much. Freeing and somewhat disheartening. The most effective thing I can do is to pray for all these larger issues. Otherwise? I’m constrained to more normal things.

It makes me think of a quote I saved a while ago,

“Let God tend to the hopeless-looking things. You are a Dominican, a foreigner to worry and quite a close friend of gaiety…It seems to me quite entrancing to be able to pile into bed realizing there is someone as big as God to do all the worrying that has to be done. Worry, you know, is a kind of reverence given to a situation because of its magnitude; how small it must be through God’s eyes…You can’t get everything done in a day, nor can you get any part of it done as well as it could be, or even as well as you’d like it; so, like the rest of us, you putter at your job with a normal amount of energy, for a reasonable amount of time, and go to bed with the humiliating yet exhilarating knowledge that you are only a child of God and not God.” (Fr Walter Farrell, O.P)

That, and the lines of the Mary Oliver poem, “Don’t Hesitate” that I have been using as an antidote in the last year.

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

Can I continue to remember how small I am in all of this, and be faithful to just that small part? And, at the end of the day, can I rest in my smallness and insignificance, taking comfort in the fact that I really am not the one responsible for everyone else?

“Be still, and know that I am God” – Psalm 46:10

on fear

It occurred to me this morning that my battle with anxiety is a blessing.

Anxiety might not be something you struggle with every day. I do. In general, I’m great at coming up with worst case scenarios, catastrophizing, foreseeing all the ways things could go wrong, finding flaws in plans, poking holes in faulty arguments and refusing to be calmed down by platitudes.

So, yes, that doesn’t sound fun. It actually isn’t. But here’s the thing…

When I don’t acknowledge God’s sovereignty, don’t use my God given authority to send fear packing and choose to feed the ravenous monster that is my fear with the news and hysteria spewing out of my phone, I’m in pretty sad shape. (This was true for me before this last week).

Anxiety and fear CAN paralyze and immobilize and completely derail any productive action we can take. The fear of “what if” robs us of any joy or peace to be found in the present, “what is”. I’m a professional future tripper. (If there were frequent flier miles for that…) But, when I’m in the future I’m neglecting my duty to what is here now and what I can actually control.

What I can do? (and you can too):

Pray. Pray for people to know God’s peace. Pray for medical professionals. Pray against those who would exploit this crisis. Pray for corruption to be exposed. Pray for those who need care to receive it. Pray for those who are lonely. Pray for those who are fearful. Pray without ceasing.

Praise. Sing. Sing the words you know are true and banish fear with praise. “The devil, the originator of sorrowful anxieties and restless troubles, flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God….Music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices.” ― Martin Luther

Do the next thing. Is that laundry? Probably. Is that making lunch for your kids? Reading them a story? Turning to the next page in your homeschool curriculum and teaching “SH”? The next thing might also include things that you don’t normally do (like searching for toilet paper…) but, most of these things are going to be normal things. Thinking obsessively about the crisis that “might” happen has never once actually empowered me to act when it occurs but it sure has derailed my daily life and made me a crabby, distracted wife and mother.

Cry. Be honest about how miserable parts of this actually feel and are. Pour out your fears and honest feelings to a God who cares. Lament that we live in a broken world, where sin and sickness and suffering affect so many and evil is rampant.

Fight. You and I do not have to take fear lying down. When the creepy, cold, slivers of fear constrict you at 2 AM you are not powerless. We are children of a God who governs the waves and the sea and who, with his very words, commanded the sea to be silent. We have the authority to stand up against fear and when it comes to harass us, we do not have to take it lying down. I forget this so often, but, it is true. There have been times where I felt paralyzed and the only recourse I can take is to pray (out loud helps), and to command fear to leave in the name of Jesus. Pray the Lord’s prayer “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us to evil” includes the temptation to despair and anxiety.

That’s my list from the battleground with anxiety. Today I’m thankful I have it because we are not helpless. Easter is coming.

faithful

It is good to look back and have evidence beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Lord is faithfully teaching you and answering your prayers. I wrote this little blurb before we knew we were leaving Colorado. It was me preaching to myself after months of being confused and waiting for God to show himself…and here we are, embarking on a new journey, assured that God is the one orchestrating the details, scary as they may be.

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“Returning to Egypt”

A while back I saw an insightful diagram that illustrated a challenge people face in learning new skills. A person’s knowledge and taste for excellence in an area of study, develops before their ability to actually produce that result. The in between space of clumsy practice is one of acute frustration and is the space where many give up on the learning process.

Before you know that what you’re looking at, hearing or producing, is not the excellent quality you aspire to, it doesn’t bother you. In fact, if you have seen the Dunning Kruger cognitive bias in action, an individual may be convinced they are excellent at something and falsely exult in their accomplishments while in reality, being mediocre at best. But, as your palate changes for the better and you learn to desire excellence, you become more and more dissatisfied with your current level of competence. This can lead to two things: a renewed desire to grow and the persistence to endure the pain of getting to the desired skill level, or contempt for your own failure that causes despair and resignation to mediocrity.

It’s like that in our spiritual growth too, isn’t it? We become aware of things that don’t match up to God’s design, the areas where we’ve been blinded – things that, until God brings them to our attention, we were able to ignore. Before the deconstruction process begins, we might even be sitting contentedly at the peak of what many Dunning Kruger diagrams label, “Mt. Stupid”. The process of learning what you don’t know is intensely uncomfortable, and if you’re anything like me, it can invoke a desire to go back to the blissful ignorance where you were convinced of your own competence. Growth sounds alluring until you start to walk it out and realize it’s a vast wilderness in which nothing makes sense. It takes courage to abandon the familiar; even after you realize its confines are their own form of slavery. 

The last several years have been intense in terms of personal and spiritual growth, and rather than rejoice in the stripping away of my false beliefs and harmful coping mechanisms, I find my more frequent reaction is anger – anger triggered by the imperfections and hardships that assure me I am definitely not “safe” out here in the wilderness. I hate feeling incompetent and out of control, yet God has insisted on a path that strips away my crutches of control and competence. If I wallow in my uncomfortable dependence and rebel against the humbling experience of knowing nothing, I become blinded to the beauty of the fact that, although I’m in the wilderness, I’m no longer stuck in slavery. But, in my weakness I actually have longed to return to the things I most wanted to escape from. There is nothing quite so terrifying as freedom to someone used to living in a box.

I was convicted, then comforted by reading about the Israelites who suffered from this same affliction:

all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness!  Why has the Lord brought us to this land…? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.” (Numbers 14:2-4)

How quick the Israelites were to disband with everything, even after witnessing the many miracles that delivered them from Egypt. How quickly we forget God’s past faithfulness when faced with new challenges. Were the Israelites really asking to go back to the very Egypt where… “they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens…they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field (Exodus 1:11, 13-14)?

If we read this story without applying it to ourselves, the Israelite’s folly is clear. How faithless of them! But doesn’t the experience of leaving something behind without yet knowing what is in front of us, provoke that reaction in most of us? When hit with uncertainty and the frustration of the wilderness, do you, like me, start to think about returning to Egypt? When our illusions of control and competence are shattered it’s easy to doubt God’s promises and desire our former security (for after all, slavery is nothing if not secure).  As I thought about this story and mulled it over, I could hear the gentle warning in God’s handling of the Israelites. An entire generation missed God’s promised land because they refused to wait patiently and, instead of counting on God’s promised faithfulness, measured the task in front of them with their own abilities in mind.

I don’t know the end of our story yet. We’re still relying on manna, so to speak. We’re well provided for in our interim space, but if I am honest I often wish for more variety on the menu. Manna is provided day by day, and I want to plan for the whole year. I easily grow discontent with ample provision, but am thankful for the story of these Israelites to caution me. My impulse, like theirs, is to take matters into my own hand, form my own idols and declare that the task set before me is impossible and will surely kill me.

So, as we wait for clear direction, I remember these words of truth about the wilderness:

“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna… Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.”(Deuteronomy 8:2-4)

The whole way. Yes, He has led and provided for me the whole way and will continue faithfully. The trials of wilderness continue to reveal the disparity between the true nature of my heart and what I hope to become. I must not despair of the distance left to travel.

the ugly parts

Transitions have a way of unsettling healing. That is what inspired this piece of writing for Red Tent Living. It’s an honest look at what PTSD feels like on a bad day. Thankfully, these days are not so often anymore, but I still fight hard to not get swallowed up in them when they happen.

If you’d like to read, you can check it out here.

Reminders

Bodies keep score.

Oh, how I wish mine forgot!
Let me be in denial,
I plead. Just this once let
me go without your reminders.

There may be wisdom in the remembering,
but I am too angry to listen.

Won’t You just let me go?
Give up on me, please.
Stop paying me the “intolerable compliment” of caring.

I envy those who seem unbothered –
it seems simpler to be forgotten.


Psalm 37:1-9
Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
    be not envious of wrongdoers!
 For they will soon fade like the grass
    and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
    Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
    but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

On journeying

When we moved into this little house three and a half years ago, I was a very different person than I am today. I am grateful to this home, for being a safe haven in the tumult. I read the poem, “Journey” by Mary Oliver today, and the tears started flowing.

It has been a journey.

This house has borne witness to tears and swear words and sleepless nights of nightmares and nursing babes. It has witnessed the births of two babies (and the breaking and re-making that birth is for a mother, no matter how many times it’s been done). It has seen me collapse on the floor sobbing and dance around singing with my babies.

A home is a sacred thing, and though I know it’s time to leave, I can’t help but feel the grief at the end of this phase. I keep thinking of how I felt the last week of this last pregnancy. It was such a long 9 months with nausea and labor scares and yet, at the end, I wanted to hold on. I wasn’t ready to do the new thing, even as much as I’d longed for pregnancy to be over. Once a squalling, brand new, human is in the world they can never go back again. The nine months of growing in the womb is silent, unseen, hard work, and when it is done, it’s time. There is no stopping the labor process.

And so, I guess what I’m feeling is a sense that this home has been a sort of safe womb for the growing that needed to happen. And now, like it or not, labor is here and I can fight it and increase the pain or surrender. But, like my December 26th baby I’m not quite ready. I thought I had more time! I had plans! We’re not doing it the “right” way. We don’t even know what we’re doing?!

But we are doing it. And I take comfort in the fact that though we don’t know what this next part of the journey holds, we do know Who holds us. He is faithful.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.