Sunday, December 16, 2012

Glass Houses

Yesterday morning my daughter and I caught up on Survivor, which has been our show since she was seven. Our whole family used to watch. My husband and son fell away after a few seasons, but my girl and I only bonded more deeply over analyzing the social and psychological machinations required to play the game. It's human nature in a glass crucible, usually set on a deserted beach. The finale is tonight and we plan to cozy up in blankets and watch all three hours of it.

And no, I wont muse on who are the true survivors in our world this week. There is already enough talk to go around, and I don't have anything to helpful to add. This article by the mother of an emotionally troubled 13-year-old made me ever more aware of how easy it is to stand on the sidelines and think we know. Even the backlash this mother now has to weather for putting her singular truth out there leaves me exhausted with not knowing.

So I'm just living my life today, being very consciously thankful for the children who I am blessed to mother. Also on tap: Christmas shopping and much needed grocery shopping, and then my daughter and her dad are going to get and decorate the tree. My son said it was mean to post photos on Facebook of his sister lounging around, because his final exams start tomorrow and he is deep in studying. One hopes. So I'm also posting a picture of him from Thanksgiving as a promise of what awaits him when his work is done. I can hardly wait till both my grown babies are back under my roof for a while. In a week such as this has been, it's all I want.

Elizabeth posted this poem yesterday. It says everything I cannot.

A Brief for the Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

From Refusing Heaven by Jack Gilbert

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