A DRINK FROM THE WELL OF SORROWS

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I’ve just walked a half mile down the lake, to the landing in front of the local restaurant and pub. A place that, on warm summer Saturdays, runs loud with music and laughter. But not today. Today the landing boasts a County Sheriff’s  command center in what began three days ago as a search and rescue for a 22 year old Cornell senior who, sadly it appears, will  miss his graduation tomorrow. I talked with the sheriff for a long time and we ended  our conversation by trading parenting stories; examples of how the Grace of God can spread wide and diverse even as this current situation changes from rescue to recovery.  I retrace my steps home, slower, searching, and hoping young Christopher will be found snagged unseen under some lone dock, hugging the shore – alive.

I think of Christopher’s parents and just how two people bear up under such sorrow; the greatest parental nightmare. It must feel as if one has fallen into a nightmare well – slowly descending clawing at the slick and slippery sides of hope. How can hope be so strong in the hearts of loved ones and still end in loss? I have no answers just questions and abstract visions of grace hiding in the shadows of an absent mercy.

Maybe we are here, a collective, alone expected to reach in the bottomless well of sorrows – all of us to take a pinch – just enough to be absorbed by our  own personal grace – sorrow’s counterpart. If we all share in this well of sorrows then no one has to bear life’s blows to the empire alone. Oh that this could happen. But we are a singularly proud and vain lot ever-willing to sink our faith in the material realm and be aghast when it fails us. And when the material world fails  we are unappreciative of the fact that “all” we are left with is – hope. It floats, has feathers, wings, and wells of its own. Hope abides in the hearts of Christopher’s friends who will miss their own graduations in hopes of finding him. Hope abides in the hearts of the rescue boats crisscrossing the lake as I stand on the shore crossing my fingers. Hope abides in  the hearts all the local volunteers who have reached into that dark well and pinched a bit of sorrow – pulling nature’s scripture from the dry caves of preservation and hoping against hope.

I know It Will Be Spring

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I know it will be spring

When the geese take up and leave

Yes, they’re beautiful graceful things

Their droppings though my peeve

 

I resent the season

Migration filling skies

A calendar with reason

Even so tears my eyes

 

Autumn, but a slant of change

A casual cool correction

Beauty in flight high and strange

Season’s savage intersection

I remember the sun

On its loving summer arc

Children ever on the run

Sleeveless in the park

Grown to love warmth and ease

And even winter’s thaw

I see the cold an ugly tease

Catching me bitter and raw

 

Every day the feathered armada

Noisily hugs the shore

Summer is persona-non-grata

And I want it all the more

 

SEED TIME

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Spring is coming

even to my narrow

little valley

I can tell because the post office

is delivering seed catalogs

and  silence

the local vehicle of discussion

When people think you’ve erred

somehow their lives get larger,

Silent when you enter the room


Still, there’s a sadness

when seeds don’t come to

attention – straight and narrow

on the first or second try outside

Blindly swinging at weather

that isn’t there

 

No shame in a tear shed

As the seedling is brought back inside

put at the table (yet again) to feast

on the love and attention

it failed to imbibe in its rush

to bloom

 

Inside provides the walls the structure

that can now tame my seed’s

“pathological enthusiasm” –

the stuffing of too much life in soil

too lightly tilled

 

My Seedling:

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Come inside where it’s warm

Do not regret your seed-time

Just learn – reall

Spring is coming

 

Seed catalogs

brighten winter’s gloom

Leafing the pages I await

you

Your authentic unrushed bloom

Promises from my garden
Promises from my garden

My Son: In His Own Sweet Way

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 ~ I wonder what my son will think

When he is old and gray

Will he remember fiends from night

Or the sunshine  from his days

~ I did what every parent wants

To raise strong and healthy kids

I am so afraid my labor’s lost

When I see him on the skids

~ Silly now, or so it seems

That imaginary age

When child puts away childish things

To turn the adult-like page

~ But there are days I get a peek

And see the son I wrought

He takes this life as serious lesson

That magically can be taught

~ Now most days I get a peek

Of the smile I used to coax

I know there’s sunshine in his heart

As it issues from his throat

~ It remains a joy to relax and bask

In these times I want to hold

But I should know as well as another

Nothing stays that’s gold

~ So I wonder what he will think

When I am old and gray

Will he remember terrorist nights

Or his sunny fields of play

 ~ I wonder too if he will see

The chimera, remora-like pain

Riding his parents’ loving  hearts

In that symbiotic train

In Parenthood: No Crime Warrants This Catastrophe

I don’t know what the death of a child means – its purpose really – nor am I ready to lay the cause for such pain and misery at the feet of some ostensibly benevolent entity.

The beauty and pain of life and the road beyond...

Two former colleagues will be burying their son today. Their son: my son’s lacrosse goalie, two years younger. This is tragedy writ large across the small town landscape of the human heart. A tragedy that speaks to the lie that the cities are where it’s at. Maybe when I figure out the IT of everything I will be better able to make a distinction between the pain wrought by a life – and a death.

What I do know is that becoming a parent can be the most joyful experience two willing people can embark upon together – the endless dreams founded on faith in love and the innocent sounds of new names – mommy and daddy. It must be what an addiction is like; looking into the eyes of your child and succumbing to the bone-melting moment when you realize that there is nothing, no one in the world you could love more. It is the moment you watch your toddler waltz around the lawn in a spring rain babbling the language of sheer happiness, arms spread wide, head held high as if sipping from some celestial chalice of innocence,  that you know you would lay down your own life for this moment to continue. Children, loved, cherished – as it should be – infused into your veins every morning, every handhold, every neck hug, every embrace of that small sturdy body that holds the contents of your elixir, the potion you need to survive. Liquefied, cooked love – injected in the open for all to see – the tracks of which you are proud to expose. Children can make us whole.

As children can make us whole so too can they lay us low. There is emotion that resides in the cracked plaster and glass of all adolescent door slams – an emotion whose power, we

that road untraveled - to self-hood

forget, is as strong an elixir for the adolescent as our fresh-parent love was for us. But it is the road out of the nest, to selfhood that we keep our eyes upon – beyond adolescence – when the parent-child relation ship is supposed to right itself – the waters begin to calm, the phone conversations end in “I love you(s)”  – both ways. But before the road untraveled, we believe we are cursed; what did we do wrong? Worry – the congenital parental condition beginning, not with ours but with our child’s birth. Even as we wrangle with adolescence we begin to paint pictures of that road out of the nest, putting our dream-child squarely upon it, smiling and ecstatically babbling that sonorous, personal language of sheer happiness – it is this emotional chimera that saves us when all hell breaks loose. It is what keeps us on the edge of the grave looking in even as our flesh and blood is lowered into the earth – buried.

I realize my tears are useless in changing the scenario. They will not revive the loved ones of the T’s, A’s and the F’s. – the first initials of those friends and colleagues who have all buried their young.

To be a parent is to expect to see your child to a healthy adulthood

To be a parent is to expect to bring that child to a healthy adulthood – it is what you deserve for all the love and parent-hours spent keeping that child alive and well. What these parents get for all their love is not what they deserve. There is no crime that warrants such catastrophe.

And so I wonder what it all means? I think of my own son, the vessel that walks the earth holding my heart and dreams – for him. And now my frustration with him, for his comparatively minor infraction of the adult responsibility code, pales with the knowledge that this frustration could be easily trumped – any day, any time…