A Time of Sadness

 

 

 

 

Random thoughts on our time.

Compared to many people (millions), my wife and I are privileged to have jobs–jobs that pay well and allow us to work from home.

But change is coming. We will separate in two weeks so my spouse can head east to provide support for our grandchildren. Their schools are “re-opening,” but their mother (our daughter) is opting to keep them home. We support this because community spread in their PA county is high. It is easy to re-open. It is harder to stay open.

My daughter and I talked and concluded that people do not understand this virus.

As we made our plans–I stay here to help launch a more comprehensive response to COVID-19 in our University town (hopefully)–we discussed our feelings. They were feelings of sadness.

Sadness that the worst might happen, and she may never come back to the place she loves. We are not usually worst-case-scenario people, but this virus has taught us that everything can change (a lesson we needed to learn). 

But also sadness that our grandchildren cannot learn with other children.  

Sad that many people there refuse masks and actively call for the recall of a governor who has tried to use evidence-based approaches to dealing with the virus. 

I repeat it, we are the privileged ones, and so it is reasonable to scoff at our sadness.

These have been years of sadness for too many. The president of the United States is a terrible person who has plunged this country into chaos, and still, 30% of Americans support him. I could get angry. But I am just sad.  

He has used race and xenophobia and personal attacks and lies to divide, and he has had no plan except to do more of the same. Sure, that could make us angry, but I think almost four years on most of us have exhausted the anger and merely live in sorrow.

White folks like me have started to come to grips with racism and our long commitment to it, and complicity in it. It feels like the way we have allowed it to worm its way into our society’s interstices is so complete that we can never root it out. In the end, will we even try?

And we are so distracted by the layers of injustice that seem to be laid down every day that we have forgotten that thousands at our southern border live lives of indignity and fear. 

We are harried, and scattered, and troubled, and anxious, and left wondering and wandering.

And even those finding solutions to our national malaise are harassed and threatened and driven out by a punitive fringe who demands that the pain go on so it can cling to power.

I could go on.  

I name the sadness to lament: to structure and give form to my grief.  

To wear it as tattered cloth.  

To adorn my head with it as ashes of a fire that cannot be quenched.  

To cover myself with it as I lay tired and thirsty on the bare earth.

There is a season for lament and mourning.  

Things and people and hopes do pass away.  

It is the way of the world.  

She will pack her bags in two weeks and leave, and we do not know what will happen next. We make these decisions to try to insert some hope in the places where we go–or stay.  

If there is to be an end to our sadness, and there will be, this is how we will practice our lament and walk towards tomorrow.

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